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Treatment settings

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Different people respond to different types of treatment, even though they may be suffering from the same eating disorder.

A tailored approach that addresses the needs of the person with the eating disorder and their families and friends is paramount.

Depending on the severity of the illness that a person is experiencing and the place in which they live, different settings for treatment may be required.

Community settings

A community-based environment is the preferred treatment setting for people with eating disorders. Community-based organisations focus on health promotion, prevention, early intervention, acute illness and recovery and relapse prevention for people with eating disorders.

These organisations can also assist a person with an eating disorder to access support and information, including referrals for treatment, support groups, counselling services and fact sheets.

In situations where a community-based environment is inappropriate or unsafe for treatment (e.g. due to low weight, purging or self-harm behaviours) or unfeasible (e.g. no local community treatment), treatments may need to be provided in a hospital setting.

Visit Services and Support Organisations to find a Community Program near you.

Day programs

Day programs for people with eating disorders provide an intermediate level of support and treatment. Day programs usually take place in a clinic or controlled environment and often include structured eating sessions and active treatment interventions.

The person attends the Day Program during the day, then goes home at the end of each day. Day programs can be attended up to five days per week and the number of days is slowly reduced to allow for easier adjustment to life in the wider community.

Visit Services and Support Programs to find a Day Program service near you.

 
Outpatient treatment

Outpatient treatment for eating disorders does not require a person to stay in hospital. Instead, it may involve working with a team of health professionals in a hospital or clinic on a regular basis (e.g. daily or weekly).

This type of treatment is best suited to someone who needs help with their eating disorder, but who is still able to continue with their everyday life and activities. However, extra care and support (from family or friends) outside of the clinic environment is usually also required.

Visit Services and Support Organisations to find an Outpatient service near you.

Inpatient treatment

Inpatient treatment involves 24-hour care in a public or private hospital (or in a similarly structured and contained environment). Inpatient treatment is often needed when the person with the eating disorder is experiencing medical or psychological problems and they will commonly present with severe symptoms of the eating disorder.

Inpatient treatment focuses on medical stabilisation and will include medical assistance and psychological support.

Visit Services and Support Organisations to find an Inpatient service near you.

Rural Services

Living in a rural area can make it harder for people with eating disorders to find help. While there may be fewer options for people with eating disorders in rural areas than there are for those living in the city, there is help available. You can:

  • Talk to your local GP or doctor. GPs can speak with you about your concerns and also help find a specialist or clinician in the area who will be able to further diagnose or treat the disorder
  • Get in touch with the major metropolitan eating disorders support organisation in your state. This can be a good way of finding out what your options are. The professionals in these organisations can point you in the right direction and explain to you what specific options are available in your region
  • Contact one of the community-based support organisations in your state. They will be able to tell you if there are specifically trained practitioners in your local area who can help with eating disorders

It should be noted that while options for eating disorder treatments in rural areas can be limited, many city-based organisations offer consultation, education and support services to rural-based health care professionals.


If doctors, GPs and other clinicians encounter patients who may be suffering from an eating disorder, it can be common for them to contact health care professionals in metropolitan areas for further support, information and referrals.

Visit Services and Support Organisations to find a service or centre that is close to you.
 

 

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