Finding An Eating Disorder Treatment Specialist

June 7, 2010 Laura Collins

Finding someone willing to treat an eating disorder is easy. Finding skilled eating disorder specialists is another story. Here's where to look.

It is not hard to find someone willing to treat an eating disorder patient. Most therapists, social workers, doctors, and dietitians, with no particular specialty in the topic, will accept patients with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. I've heard of a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and an astrologist taking charge of this life-threatening illness as well.

As parents and loved ones, I think it is really important that we do everything we can to make sure patients get care from clinicians who specialize in eating disorders. Further, it is our job to make sure these specialists are using evidence-based treatment methods.

Sorry, We Don't Treat Eating Disorders

finding the right eating disorder specialistI was shocked, and frightened, when two local clinicians told me they would not treat my child for anorexia. Now I look back and realize these two were right: they weren't qualified and were not willing to go beyond their training and experience. I wish more professionals would do this. I wish a few of the people who did offer to help had been less willing: their confidence led me to believe they were more experienced than they were. I had no way of knowing the difference and in my frightened state, I was looking for any port in the storm.

Now I know that eating disorders can't be treated by the same theories and approaches as one does other issues. Anorexia is a real illness, not a developmental stumble. It isn't something to address with social theories or ideas that make otherwise healthy people feel good. Eating disorders are not something for any one clinician to be treating without a coordinated team that includes medical, psychiatric, psychotherapeutic, and nutritional knowledge.

Dabbling In Eating Disorder Treatment

The problem I see out there is that since the public thinks eating disorders are just the far end of normal thoughts and behaviors, that many clinicians fall into this trap as well. My doctor, for example, likes to say "We all have eating disorders, don't we?" But if you talk with an experienced eating disorder specialist, you will see little patience for that attitude. Most people in the eating disorder community want the public, and their colleagues, to take these conditions seriously and to refer to specialists.

As small as the supply is out there for truly experienced and skilled eating disorder specialists, I still don't believe any patient deserves less. I think dabbling in eating disorder treatment is dangerous, and that parents need to educate themselves enough to know the dabblers from the specialists. Our kids are counting on us.

APA Reference
Collins, L. (2010, June 7). Finding An Eating Disorder Treatment Specialist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Laura Collins

August, 4 2010 at 2:22 pm

I am a teen and I'm currently suffering from bulimia...I feel so trapped by this eating disorder...What did you guys do to recover???

riverside chiropractic
June, 23 2010 at 12:24 am

I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Gerri Luce
June, 20 2010 at 10:30 pm

Most everyone with an eating disorder has not been molested. That is not necessarily true. Mine started when an incompetent psychiatrist prescribed Dexedrine for me as an antidepressant and because it supresses your appetite and having an addictive personality, being raised by two addicts, I took it to the limit and became anorexic. I have been anorexic for 23 years.

marilyn mills
June, 9 2010 at 11:26 pm

I have dealt with bulimia and anorexia for the past 20 years! I finally found a certified dietician who had overcome bulimia. She had suffered from it for almost as long as I did. She developed an eating disorder at the age of 15.
I became bulimic at the age of 26, after a 5 year relationship ended. I was molested numerous times as a young child, the first time when i was 3. Most everyone with an eating disorder has been molested.
As a parent, you may not realize what's happening to your child. I never had children because I was afraid I'd do to my child what my mother did to me. At the age of 14, i witnessed my mother shoot herself in the head with a shotgun and the shell was full of buckshot.
I've been in treatment for 2o years. I have finally been able to manage my bulimia with the help of Mary Jo Briggs. I think the best person to help someone overcome an eating disorder is to find someone who has had it. Other people can't understand it no matter how many degrees they may have. You have to live it to understand it. Mary Jo knows how I feel in recovering. She's been there.

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