Eating Disorder Therapy

Eating disorders are serious health conditions that can be both physically and emotionally destructive. People with eating disorders need to seek professional help. Early diagnosis and intervention may enhance recovery. Eating disorders can become chronic, debilitating, and even life-threatening conditions.

What Does Treatment of an Eating Disorder Involve?

The most effective and long-lasting treatment for an eating disorder is some form of psychotherapy or psychological counseling, coupled with careful attention to medical and nutritional needs. Ideally, this treatment should be tailored to the individual and will vary according to both the severities of the disorder and the patient’s particular problems, needs, and strengths.

Psychological counseling must address both the eating-disordered symptoms and the underlying psychological, interpersonal, and cultural forces that are contributing to the eating disorder.

The individual needs to learn how to live peacefully and healthfully with food and with her or himself. Typically care is provided by a licensed health professional, including but not limited to a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, nutritionist, and/or medical doctor. Care should be coordinated and provided by a health professional with expertise and experience in dealing with eating disorders.

Many people with eating disorders respond to outpatient therapy, including individual, group, or family therapy and medical management by their primary care provider. Support groups, nutritional counseling, and psychiatric medications under careful medical supervision have also proven helpful for some individuals. Hospital-based care (including inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and/or residential care in an eating disorders specialty unit or facility) is necessary when an eating disorder has led to physical problems that may be life threatening, or when it is associated with severe psychological or behavioral problems. The exact treatment needs of each individual will vary. It is important for individuals struggling with an eating disorder to find a health professional they trust to help coordinate and oversee their care.

Comer Rudd-Gates has been a practicing Registered Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor for over 25 years. She specializes in depression anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, body image and the role of creativity in healing. Comer is a staff therapist with Gateway Counseling and has a private practice in Guilford, Connecticut. Previously, she maintained a private practice in Atlanta, GA and worked as a group therapist for Ladder to the Moon, an intensive outpatient eating disorders program. Comer is the curator of an art exhibit Hungry Souls: Nourishing Ourselves through Art, co-executive producer of the film Bodyspeaks: Finding A Voice through Art Therapy and the executive director of the Allasso Foundation: Change, Creativity and the Healing Image.