What to Consider When Choosing a Treatment Center
The best eating disorder treatment center for you will depend on a number of factors. But there are some general things to consider when judging the quality of a given facility or determining the type of eating disorder recovery process that will help you the most.
The most relevant factors will vary, depending on your unique circumstances, but regardless of the details, there are some common factors to keep in mind.
One of the more significant factors to consider is the location of a treatment center, especially if you won’t be staying at the facility as part of a residential treatment program.
Consider how far you can or are able to travel for your sessions, keeping in mind that eating disorder treatment can be a long-term process. Your treatment will evolve over time, and you will be able to switch treatment centers as needed, but a more easily reachable facility may make a positive difference in your recovery journey.
If you are otherwise unable to drive yourself places, the convenience of the location may also come into play. You may want to consider proximity to public transportation hubs or other more easily-accessible facilities.
Cost & Coverage
For many people, the cost of a potential program—whether for day treatment, outpatient treatment, or a residential treatment center—is one of the most influential factors when looking at treatment facilities.
Hand-in-hand with potential program costs is the potential for program coverage. A vast majority of people can’t afford an eating disorder treatment program on their own and so rely on their health insurance plan to cover some or all of that cost.
Fortunately, many treatment centers are willing to work with patients to untangle some of these complicated details and determine the level of coverage you’re likely to receive from your insurance plan. Still, it’s essential to do your research beforehand.
You might want to search for facilities that accept your specific insurance plan or call your insurance provider for help locating covered programs. This can help you avoid any surprise costs, which will likely only add stress to an already stressful process.
The features of eating disorder treatment centers are the most varied factor of your search. Each facility will likely have its own rules, schedules, amenities, and even differing general philosophies regarding the best way to help.
Some features to consider include potential help with co-occurring mental health disorders, the type of therapies offered at the center, and any additional recreational options that may be available. Regardless of the specifics, make sure the program employs evidence-based eating disorder treatments.
If a treatment center uses questionable methods that don’t have research studies and established evidence backing them, be wary. Also, you may want to think twice about any treatment center that “guarantees” results or talks about a “cure” rather than a structured path for long-term recovery.
The exact features that are important to you will, of course, vary. An internet search is a great place to start, but you can always call a center specifically to ask about features or other details that may be unclear on their website.
Doctors & Other Professionals
Doctors and other professionals are going to have a significant impact on the quality of your care. These are the people you are going to see and interact with every day, and whose guidance, advice, and expertise will be offered as you journey down the path to recovery.
While any legitimate treatment center will have a roster of qualified doctors, nurses, dietitians, and other medical professionals on staff, some facilities may specialize in certain forms of therapy, or hire doctors that subscribe to specific ideas or philosophies about how to help.
You may also prefer to work with doctors with specific backgrounds, including those who regularly work with patients with a history of trauma or members of the LGBTQ+ community.
You should be able to find at least some of this information on a facility’s website, but you can always call to ask for more details.
Once you begin narrowing down the places your insurance will cover, with a convenient location, desirable features, and a staff you like, you might want to start looking into the background of these facilities.
Researching a treatment provider’s reputation can help fill you in on the history of the program, as well as any potential downsides, such as legal issues the center may have been embroiled in.
You may also find some good news in these searches—reviews often reveal a patient’s true feelings about their experience in a place.
Many treatment providers will show testimonials and reviews on their site, which can be a useful start, but keep in mind that most programs will likely only highlight positive reviews. Try to find more impartial sources to get a complete impression of the company and its history.
Virtual Treatment vs. In-Person Treatment
With the use of modern technology, it is now possible to get treatment for an eating disorder virtually. Still, both online and in-person treatment options have their own advantages and disadvantages.
The major benefits of virtual eating disorder treatment are convenience and provider access.
With a virtual visit, the actual location of a provider no longer becomes a factor of consideration. This can really expand the number of available options, mainly if you live in more remote or isolated areas or have difficulties traveling.
Virtual care is also convenient, allowing you to quickly talk with a professional on the day of your appointment with just a computer or smartphone and an internet connection.
While this type of help is still relatively new, early studies show online treatment can offer just as much quality of care as in-person treatment in many cases. Still, depending on the severity of you or your loved one’s condition, virtual care may not be adequate.
In-person treatment is the traditional way mental health care has been provided. And there are still many advantages of this form of help, particularly if someone’s symptoms are severe.
Some people continue to prefer in-person treatments because it helps them feel more connected with the doctor or other healthcare professionals they’re working with. Others may simply feel uncomfortable with modern technology.
In-person treatment facilities can also provide some options that are not possible with virtual care. Perhaps most notably, inpatient care, when a person stays at a facility for an extended period as part of a more intensive treatment process, is designed to be a more immersive experience.
It’s thought that, in some cases, the actual change in environment, where a patient can remain under the care of professionals and be away from potential triggers or unhelpful living situations, can be a necessary aspect of treatment. In-person care is often recommended for severe eating disorders, long-term issues, and co-occurring disorders.
Finding Help for an Eating Disorder
Generally, regardless of where you choose to receive treatment, the best recovery programs are the ones that foster an overall supportive environment. These eating disorder treatment programs will focus on long-term recovery and help instill the tools, patience, and perspective needed to deal with that journey, including any potential setbacks.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to find a peaceful, compassionate, and friendly place where help is available. An online search or conversation with insurance company representatives or a trusted healthcare professional can help get you on the right path toward a program that will help make all the difference.