By Megan Samuels, MSW, LMSW, Outreach Coordinator
Eating disorder treatment can look different from other mental health treatments because people may benefit from different levels of care, aside from traditional once-a-week therapy. People who are struggling more with eating disorder symptoms may also benefit from a higher level of care.
What’s a higher level of care?
A higher level of care would be any program or treatment that is more intensive than seeing a therapist once a week. There are a few different types of higher level of care treatment programs that are pretty standard in the eating disorder community.
Inpatient: Clients stay in a hospital-like setting for medical monitoring. This may include people who have some lab imbalances or EKG abnormalities that doctors will need to monitor. The average length of stay for inpatient depends on a number of factors, like insurance authorization, overall functioning, co-occuring disorders, and medical stability. There may or may not be therapy and nutrition groups at an inpatient hospital.
Residential: This setting is typically for clients who are medically stable, but who may have other impacts of the eating disorder or other co-occuring disorders that can not be treated at a Partial Hospital Program (PHP) or Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) level of care. Residential treatment can be a step down program to inpatient or a step up for someone in Partial Hospital Program (PHP) or Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) who is not responding to treatment as expected. Usually, clients will stay overnight in a residential facility for a minimum of four weeks. However, the duration of stay can depend on insurance coverage and other factors.
Partial Hospital Program (PHP): PHP is a treatment program for clients who are medically stable and do not not need to be constantly monitored but who may need a daily check-in and evaluation. Often, clients go to a treatment center five days a week for most of the day to engage in supported meals, individual therapy, nutrition therapy, psychiatry, and group therapy to treat the eating disorder and any other co-occuring disorders, if appropriate.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): This setting is often a step down from PHP or a step up from traditional outpatient services. IOP typically looks like group and some individual therapy or programming three days a week for a few hours each day. This setting is appropriate for clients who do not need a daily evaluation and who are medically stable. Someone may benefit from IOP services if they have been working with an individual outpatient therapist for awhile and have noticed that the eating disorder symptoms are getting worse.
Outpatient: That’s us!
Outpatient treatment typically includes meeting with a therapist once or twice a week to treat symptoms of the eating disorder and any other co-occurring disorders. This may also look like meeting with a recovery coach once or twice a week. Other team members could include a psychiatrist or a registered dietitian.
How do I know where to start?
That’s a great question; all of this can be difficult to navigate. The therapists at The Eating Disorder Center provide level of care (LOC) evaluations. What that means is a therapist will meet with you one or two times to discuss symptoms, level of functioning, and potential health complications and make a recommendation of a level of care that may be appropriate. It may also be helpful to schedule a physical with a doctor to get lab work done and an electrocardiogram (EKG) to determine if there are any medical complications from symptoms of eating disorders. This can help to determine medical stability, which is a qualification for some of the levels of care.
Also, if we can’t help, we are very familiar with higher level of care treatment centers in the area who may be able to help! Please reach out to us and we would be happy to make a referral.
More information on treatment centers can be found here.
*Disclaimer: The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for your independent medical decision-making nor a recommendation or endorsement for any particular treatment plan, organization, provider, professional service, or product. The information may change without notice. You assume all responsibility and risk for any use of the information.
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The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California, serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.