Eating Disorders and Treatment Teams

What are Eating Disorders and What Does a Good Treating Team Look Like?

What are Eating Disorders? 

As we approach World Eating Disorders Action Day (WEDED), we would like to highlight the importance of eating disorder recovery and that there is hope!  

Eating disorders involve a combination of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors that relate to negative body image, weight and shape concerns, difficulties around eating and compensatory behaviours.  

  • Eating disorders are serious, complex and do not discriminate. They can impact one’s life significantly and for some be potentially life threatening.   
  • Approximately one million Australians are living with an eating disorder in any given year; that is, 4% of the population.  
  • The actual prevalence maybe be much higher and based on research within Australia by Butterfly Foundation, 1 in 5 (17%) either have an eating disorder or have greater than 3 symptoms of disordered eating.  
  • Less than a third of those receive treatment or support. 

There are a number of formal diagnoses of eating disorders, for more info on these please click here.

For many people, they do not have a formal diagnosis. This does not mean they aren’t entitled to access appropriate support. 

So, what is does eating disorder support look like?  

For all the below supports, it’s critical that the relationship is based on honest and non-judgemental communication to facilitate trust and understanding. Based on the complex interplay between above mentioned factors, it makes sense that a holistic and a multidisciplinary approach is taken. Examples below:

Medical practitioner: At a minimum, it is strongly recommended to be accessing appropriate medical monitoring through a medical practitioner, commonly a GP.  

Therapist: To assist manage the mental health challenges that go with eating disorders, the next minimum recommendation is to access a trained eating disorder therapist. This could be from a social worker, psychologist, counsellor, or mental health nurse. Our Accredited Mental Health Social Workers, myself (Christophe) and Grace are both Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinicians.  For further therapists or dieticians options, click this link to find a trained and credentialed therapist. 

Dietitian: For many, accessing an eating disorder dietitian (not generalist dietitian) can be extremely helpful to learning to manage eating behaviours. These trained dietitians assist using a model that is tailored towards specific eating concerns and have knowledge that is bordering those who are trained therapists. They will not just give you a meal plan.  

Psychiatrist/Paediatrician: For those needing more in-depth medication management as well as children needing support, psychiatry and paediatrics will be useful to access. Discussing this with your GP would be a first step so they can assist make relevant referrals.  

Peer Workers: Have a lived experience of mental health challenges, either personally or in support of someone close to them such as a family member. Because they often ‘get it’, peer work can greatly enhance recovery outcomes by promoting hope, empowerment, self-esteem, self-efficacy, social inclusion, and engagement (Repper and Carter, 2011).  

Family/friends: Can be highly important for people who have supportive informal networks and can be considered ‘allies’ in the person’s life.  

Groups: Can range from therapeutic to psychosocial and assist build meaningful connections, understanding and skills in addition to reducing stigma and isolation that is so common with not only eating disorders but mental health issues more broadly.  

If you are seeking support for mental health concerns including support to manage eating disorders/disordered eating concerns, With Grace Therapy has a number of social workers and therapists able to help, so please reach out.   

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