If you are new to seeking help for an eating disorder, it can be hard to know where to start!
First, eating disorder treatment is a highly specialised area.
Second, there are different degrees of intensity for the type of eating disorder help you can receive.
Third, it can be difficult to know what type of eating disorder specialist you should see.
But you can breathe…
As in this article, I give some pointers on how to find the right eating disorder help in Melbourne for you.
Find a GP
A good place to start is to find a GP who has experience in treating Eating Disorders. When you suffer from an eating disorder, your physiological health can be impacted. For example, your gastrointestinal system can struggle to work properly, you may have poor bone density, or your heart function can be compromised. A GP is also able to connect you with other health professionals and can recommend the right type of treatment for you.
To find a GP who works in eating disorders, it is worth calling the Butterfly Foundation (1800 33 4673) as they have a national referral database.
Different Eating Disorder Treatment Options
There are different levels of eating disorder support, depending on the nature of your eating disorder and life/financial circumstances.
Different treatment options in order of intensity include:
Eating Disorder Inpatient Hospital Treatment
If you go private you can expect a longer inpatient stay compared to if you go public. However, keep in mind, for private treatment you need to have private health insurance in place. The focus of treatment in hospitals is on re-establishing regular and normal eating patterns. For patients that are significantly underweight, there is also a focus on weight regain. Group therapy is usually offered during the day.
- Significant struggle to eat a normal diet
- Previous attempts at other eating disorder treatment with little success
- Eating disorder is greatly impacting daily life – e.g. the eating disorder hinders the individual’s ability to study/work/attend school
Eating Disorder Outpatient Hospital Treatment
These programs typically require attendance for the most part of a day for 1-5 days per week, and each day consists of meal support and a range of different group therapies. Normally different sessions and activities run on each day of the week (e.g. Mondays may have a focus on CBT group therapy and going to a café for a snack). Regardless of the days you wish to attend, you are typically required to commit to weekly attendance for a certain period of time. Some outpatient eating disorder treatment programs include individual psychology and dietician support, in addition to groups and meal support. All of the outpatient eating disorder programs differ slightly, and there is the option to choose between private or public.
- Require a step-up from individual psychology and dietician support
- Previous individual psychology and dietician support has not been effective
- Able to reasonably manage eating disorder outside of program
Individual Psychology and Dietician Support
There are some private psychologists or psychiatrists and dieticians who specialise in eating disorders, who can provide weekly support to sufferers of eating disorders and their loved ones. There are also some, but minimal options, to see individual psychologists, psychiatrists and dieticians as outpatients from public hospitals.
Treatment with a multidisciplinary team should be comprised of: at least one professional who addresses the psychological component of an eating disorder (psychologist and or psychiatrist); a dietician who addresses nutritional intake and eating patterns; a medical physician (GP) who manages medical stability and weight; and psychiatrist if medication is required. The purpose behind this eating disorder treatment approach is to allow the individual to continue living their life, while simultaneously addressing their eating disorder.
- Continuing to attend and engage in work/study/school
- Medically stable
Eating Disorder Group Therapy
A nice adjunct to seeking out individual support is to join a local group focused on eating disorder recovery. Group therapy is usually run by a psychologist, who uses an evidence-based therapy to guide the group in working through their struggles together. There are not many group therapy options in Melbourne, but Eating Disorders Victoria and a few private clinics offer eating disorder group therapy.
Peaceful Mind Psychology’s Eating Disorder Help
We are a team of warm and experienced psychologists based in Melbourne, who share a specialised interest in eating disorder treatment. We currently have seven psychologists who are competent and experienced in eating disorder treatments, including: Cognitive-behavioural Therapy-Enhanced (CBT-E), Interpersonal Psychotherapy, and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia.
Peaceful Mind Psychology also offers group therapy for eating disorders and information sessions for carers and families. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.