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Differences Between Specialized Eating Disorder Treatment Centers

Treatment professionals focused on helping those with eating disorders understand how important it is that eating disorder treatment centers offer programs that address the needs of all types of people. Eating disorder treatment programs, such as residential eating disorder programs, offer specialized programs to help those diagnosed with eating disorders like binge eating disorder and anorexia nervosa. These programs may include eating disorder treatment for adolescents, women and men.

While eating disorders may be more prevalent in some groups, the reality is eating disorders can affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Those that have been diagnosed with an eating disorder need to know they are not alone and there are treatment programs that can cater to their unique circumstances.

When seeking treatment options for eating disorders, such as a binge eating treatment program, it can be helpful to have a clear picture of what types of programs are out there. Knowing there are eating disorder facilities that offer specialized programs can make it easier for those diagnosed with an eating disorder, and their loved ones, to begin on the path to being fully recovered.

Common Types of Specialized Eating Disorder Treatment Programs

Every eating disorder recovery center is committed to helping those diagnosed with an eating disorder to recover. However, the approach eating disorder treatment centers use can vary based on the specific groups they are trying to help and the philosophy of those that operate the treatment center. There are a variety of programs available that focus on the needs of different groups, ranging from children to teens to adults, as well as programs for women and men. There are even programs that focus on helping older adults. When choosing an eating disorder treatment program, such as binge eating treatment program, anorexia nervosa treatment program or bulimia nervosa treatment program, it can be helpful to know how the programs offered differ and how they are similar.

Some of the most common types of treatment options for eating disorders catering to specific groups include:

Adolescent Eating Disorder Programs

Adolescent eating disorder treatment programs, also referred to as teen eating disorder treatment programs, are designed to help adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17. The risks an eating disorder presents to the mental and physical health of adolescents is substantial, and the need for professional treatment is paramount to helping these adolescents on their path to recovery.

It is usually the case that an eating disorder, whether in a teen or adult, is the result of multiple factors that must all be addressed. However, it can be useful to understand some of the most common factors that lead teens to develop eating disorders. Eating disorders among teens can be influenced by a variety of components, including:

  • Peer pressure:Some girls are more prone to peer pressure than others. For those that are heavily swayed by what others are doing, or say they are doing, an eating disorder may provide a path toward the goal of achieving an ideal insisted upon by the group.
  • Bullying:Bullying amongst the adolescent population has always been an issue, but in today’s hyper-connected world it can seem more pervasive than ever. The addition of social media, along with the everyday pressures of school and social activities makes it possible for bullies to exercise an incredible amount of power, which can then impact the development of an eating disorder.
  • Trauma:There are many kinds of physical and emotional trauma, any of which can negatively influence the behavior of a teen. Neglect, abuse, divorce, moving to a new school, the death of someone close – all of which can have a devastating effect on a teen and contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

When a parent discovers his or her teen has an eating disorder, it is understandably upsetting. The most important thing a parent can do is to establish clear communication with the teen and the doctor or therapist who has diagnosed the eating disorder. Through clear communication, the parent can determine the severity of the condition and the right treatment option, one that is most likely to help the teen fully recover from the condition.

The teen’s therapist or doctor will recommend residential or outpatient eating disorder treatment, and may even provide a recommendation of where to seek that treatment. The next step is to research treatment options and choose the best fit for your teen and your family.

When confronted with so many treatment options, it can be comforting to discover there are programs designed specifically for adolescents. These programs are safe places staffed with compassionate professionals who understand how to treat adolescents. Teens are able to participate in an environment surrounded by their peers working through similar struggles.

Adolescent eating disorder treatment programs provide the right environment for recovery by minimizing stress and implementing proven treatment protocols. Through group therapy, individual therapy and other treatments, patients learn to identify the difficulties they need to work through and learn powerful strategies for navigating life in the outside world. With sufficient treatment, they can develop a positive relationship with food and return to a life in recovery.

Eating Disorder Programs for Women

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are twice as prevalent among females as males. There are a significant number of women who seek recovery from an eating disorder, and most eating disorder recovery centers offer specialized treatment programs to cater to their needs. Eating disorder programs for women provide a safe, welcoming space for patients to receive much-needed help on the road to recovery.

Beyond the benefits that come from living in a female-only residential environment, this environment can, at times, make some therapies easier to engage in, particularly group therapy. Some women may feel more comfortable speaking in group therapy when they are in the presence of other females, versus being in a group of both males and females.

For women who are diagnosed with an eating disorder, it can be encouraging to know there are treatment programs where one can go and be with other women traveling a similar path.

Eating Disorder Programs for Men

Male-only eating disorder treatment programs serve a similar purpose as female-only eating disorder treatment programs, only they cater to men instead of women. These male-oriented treatment programs bring together men who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder to go through effective treatments, including individual and group therapy.

It can be more comfortable for men diagnosed with eating disorders who participate in residential treatment to live in a male-only environment. The male-only environment can also make some forms of therapy more approachable, including group therapy. For instance, a young man may be more at ease with opening up in a group therapy session if he is participating with other men, as opposed to being in a group therapy session composed of primarily women.

Male-only residential treatment programs for eating disorders are not as common as those for women, but they are available. Men diagnosed with eating disorders who want a male-only program can find them with sufficient research.

Two Main Categories of Treatment Programs: Residential and Outpatient (Day Treatment)

When one is trying to choose a binge eating treatment program or anorexia nervosa treatment program, the options may seem a little overwhelming. It can be beneficial to understand the basic categories of eating disorder treatment programs, residential eating disorder treatment and outpatient eating disorder treatment. Most programs fall into one of these two categories.

Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Programs

With a residential eating disorder treatment program, the patient lives at the treatment center for the time period it takes to complete treatment. These programs can last anywhere from a month to six months, or longer as needed. Meals and lodging are included in the program. Residential programs are an immersive treatment experience designed to help patients recover as fully and as quickly as possible. They accomplish these goals by structuring the patient’s day-to-day life around treatment and related experiences.

Residential treatment is available for many groups, including children, adolescents, adults, males and females. The focus on a particular group is important in these situations because the patients are living together in a facility and participating in treatment together on a regular basis.

Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment Programs

Outpatient eating disorder treatment includes a treatment schedule, often with many of the same treatments offered with residential programs, such as individual and group therapy, and may last for a period of months or years. The major difference is that patients only attend the treatment center for treatment, such as binge eating disorder treatment. The remainder of the time they are immersed in their day to day experiences. Outpatient eating disorder programs allow individuals to have new experiences outside of treatment, while still maintaining the safety and support of the treatment team, if and when needed.

Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.