Eating Disorder Treatment in California

Many diverse recovery types are available throughout your state, ranging from private inpatient facilities to great CA outpatient programs.

Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge eating disorder (BED) are serious conditions that can have a significant impact on mental, physical, and emotional health.

If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating habits, it’s important to seek out appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Thankfully, California offers several options that can help.

Types of Eating Disorder Treatment in California

All eating disorders are serious, but each case presents differently, depending on an individual’s health history, environment, access to treatment, and other factors.

As such, several levels of care have been developed to treat eating disorders to help cater to patients with varying symptom severity. And California offers help at all recognized levels of care.

Virtual Treatment

Virtual treatment for eating disorders and other mental health conditions is a relatively new option. Still, it has already shown to be just as effective as in-person care in many cases. [2]

An online format for care has the additional benefits of flexibility and ease, making it an excellent choice for those with challenges around mobility or transportation, those with unpredictable schedules, people who live far from in-person treatment centers, people with social anxiety issues, or simply those who would rather receive treatment at home.

Who Offers Virtual Treatment in California? 

Within Health provides nationwide virtual support for eating disorders. They offer texting, calling, check-ins, and more, along with a mobile app for participants to download. A healthcare team of psychiatrists and dieticians is accessible through the app.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment involves a patient living and sleeping at a facility where they can receive medical care and monitoring 24 hours a day. This type of eating disorder treatment is broken down into several levels.

Inpatient hospitalization is the most intensive form of eating disorder care. It’s generally reserved for patients whose lives are in immediate danger, including those experiencing a mental or physical health crisis like suicidal ideation or extreme weight loss. [1] Patients stay in a hospital-like setting, usually for up to a few weeks, with the goal of restoring the patient to a state of medical stabilization.

Residential treatment also involves staying full-time at a care center, though these facilities are designed more for long-term stays, with programs lasting at least 30 days and often for longer. [1] Residential care generally involves several treatments, including individual and group therapy sessions, nutritional counseling, meal monitoring, and regular medical check-ins, with patients following regimented schedules throughout the course of the program.

Who Offers Inpatient Treatment in California?

The Reasons eating disorder center offers inpatient and residential treatment for adults with bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. Their inpatient treatment is at BHC Alhambra Hospital in Southern California, and their residential treatment includes six-bed homes with supportive care in a home-like setting.

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) also provides inpatient treatment for adolescents and teens.

Partial Hospital Program (PHP) Treatment

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are usually for patients stepping down from residential treatment or are sometimes recommended instead of an inpatient program. [1]

They’re also called “day programs” because patients live and sleep at home while commuting to treatment during the day. But PHPs are still intensive, taking place as many as 10 hours per day, up to 5 or 6 days per week. [1]

Patients receive much of the same types of care as those available in residential programs, including therapy, nutritional counseling, meal support, and medical check-ups. However, as a patient moves through the recovery process, schedules are adjusted to reflect their progress.

Who Offers PHPs in California? 

UCSD offers PHP for adults and adolescents in 10- or 6-hour daily sessions where patients participate in therapy groups, meet with physicians and dieticians, and have their vital signs monitored weekly. Patients can live at home or in the program’s supportive housing.

Outpatient Treatment

Like inpatient treatment, outpatient services are available in several formats.

Standard outpatient care can refer to many arrangements but generally includes a weekly or regular visit with a therapist or doctor. This type of care is the least intensive and best suited for patients who have their eating disorder symptoms mostly under control but would like ongoing accountability on their recovery journey.

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) may be helpful for those who want or need more support. At this level, patients generally attend treatment sessions a few times a week for a few hours at a time. The hybrid approach makes an IOP an excellent option for someone ready to start incorporating social responsibilities like school or work back into their recovery.

Who Offers Outpatient Treatment in California?

Alsana has four locations in California that offer intensive outpatient care for adults recovering from an eating disorder. They also provide virtual intensive outpatient treatment for those wanting less structured support. UCSD has intensive outpatient programs for adolescents.

Additional California Eating Disorder Resources

There are many more resources available for you or your loved one to find information or get support for eating disorder recovery in California. Here are just a few:

Other programs for non-students may also be available throughout the state. Calling an eating disorder hotline can help you find the most accurate information for eating disorder resources in your area.

Eating Disorder Support Groups in California

Support groups for eating disorders can be helpful at any point on the road to recovery, allowing patients to share experiences and learn from one another while building a support system and sense of community.

In California, these groups include:

  • The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) hosts weekly support group meetings for eating disorder support. The meetings take place over Zoom and offer a safe, virtual community for people to share their experiences and feelings. It is free to register and attend. 
  • Similarly, the Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC) also offers weekly support group meetings via Zoom, with support groups specifically for binge eating disorders and bulimia. Everyone 18 and above can register and attend for free.

Additional support groups can likely be found throughout the state. These groups are usually run on a community level, and meeting times may be subject to change. Searching for eating disorder support groups near you is the best way to find the most accurate and up-to-date information on potential meetings in your area.

Effects of not eating

What to Look for in a Bulimia Treatment Center/Program in California

California has many options for eating disorder treatment, and while this is a good thing, it can also make it harder to find the best eating disorder treatment center for you or your loved one.

Keeping a few extra considerations in mind can help you decide.

Licensing and Accreditation

To ensure you get the best quality of care, look for California eating disorder treatment centers accredited by The Joint Commission or CARF International.

All officially licensed treatment facilities must follow state and national laws around hiring appropriate staff, but accreditation is a sign that a program has gone the extra mile. It signifies that a program has been examined by industry experts and meets or exceeds the standard quality of care.

You should also check if the treatment center is licensed to offer eating disorder treatment and healthcare services. This can help eliminate any scams or sham programs that unfortunately exist.

Cost and Insurance

Most people need insurance to help cover the cost of a treatment program, so before you even start looking, you may want to contact your insurance company to ask which treatment centers they may work with or be more willing to cover.

If you’ve found a program you like, but the costs do not fit your budget, you can also check if they offer financial assistance. Visit their website to see if they accept your insurance and confirm how much is covered.

Obtaining a copy of your insurance plan to see what kind of eating disorder treatment your plan covers and for how long is also a good idea and may help limit or eliminate any surprise bills down the road.

Asking The Right Questions

Finding the best eating disorder treatment center for you or your loved one can be an overwhelming experience. Asking your would-be care providers these questions can help you determine which program may be the best match for you: [3]

  • What psychotherapeutic approaches do you use when treating eating disorders? 
  • How will you determine whether or not the treatment is working? Are there measurable criteria or quality improvement programs at this facility to regularly assess treatment outcomes? 
  • Will you be working with other treatment providers, and if so, who are they? 
  • How long will the treatment take, and how do we know when to stop treatment? 
  • How will you involve my family in the treatment? 

Finding Help for an Eating Disorder in California

There are several ways to start looking for help for an eating disorder.

Contacting your primary care physician, therapist, or psychiatrist is a good option. These medical professionals can help you secure an official diagnosis—often needed to enter a treatment program—or guide you in your next best steps.

Calling your insurance company can be another good first step to help determine which programs near you may be eligible for coverage. Insurance representatives can also help you understand what else you’ll need to enroll and have treatment covered.

Eating disorders are dangerous and potentially even deadly conditions, and seeking out treatment is essential to sustained recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to seek out help.


  1. Levels of Care. (n.d.). University of California San Diego. Accessed October 2023. 
  2. Steiger H, Booij L, Crescenzi O, Oliverio S, Singer I, Thaler L, St-Hilaire A, & Israel M. (2022). In-person versus virtual therapy in outpatient eating-disorder treatment: A COVID-19 inspired study. The International Journal of Eating Disorders; 55(1):145–150.
  3. Questions to Ask Treatment Providers. (n.d.). National Eating Disorders Association. Accessed October 2023.

Last Update | 12 - 26 - 2023

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