Eating Disorder Treatment in North Carolina

Various eating disorder treatment options are available in North Carolina, ranging from inpatient to partial hospitalization, outpatient, and even virtual options.

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Anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), and other eating disorders are severe mental health conditions that can have lasting and serious impacts on your physical health if left untreated. In the worst cases, these conditions can lead to death, making it essential to find appropriate care as soon as possible.

Thankfully, there are several North Carolina eating disorder treatment centers available that are equipped to help people suffering from eating disorders.

Types of Eating Disorder Treatment in North Carolina

While all eating disorders need to be treated, eating disorder symptoms can present in many different ways, with symptoms ranging in severity and duration. Several levels of care have been developed to help accommodate this continuum of needs.

The most appropriate level of care for you or your loved one should be determined by your treatment team. In North Carolina, all levels of care are available for eating disorder patients.

Virtual Treatment

Online treatment for eating disorders is an increasingly popular option, with patients and doctors using apps, websites, and other online tools to conduct regular sessions.

The method allows for much greater access to care, particularly for those who live far from in-person treatment centers, people with challenges around transportation or mobility, or those with family situations that make it difficult to be far from home. However, most patients can benefit from this type of care and its convenience.

Patients experiencing severe eating disorder symptoms may still need in-person treatment to help them get symptoms to a manageable level. However, studies have shown that online eating disorder treatment can be just as effective as in-person care for those at an outpatient level.2

Who Offers Virtual Treatment in North Carolina?

With the rising popularity of virtual eating disorder care has come a proliferation of options. Within Health has quickly stood out among the rest.

The program utilizes multidisciplinary experts to ensure treatment plans are catered to a patient’s individual history and needs, and patients can even receive meals and medical equipment through the mail to help ensure the treatment process is as smooth as possible.

Inpatient and Residential Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of care, involving patients staying full-time at a facility where they can receive 24-hour medical care and monitoring.

Inpatient hospitalization is generally reserved for the most severe cases, when patients are experiencing medical instability or a medical crisis, such as suicidality or rapidly worsening vital signs. [1] The overall goal of this type of care is helping a patient become medically stable again, so treatment is more focused on immediate needs, and stays are generally short.

Once a patient is considered medically stable, they can proceed with residential treatment. This type of care also involves staying full-time at a treatment center, but goals and stays are more long-term, so facilities are more home-like than clinical.

Patients generally stay at least 30 days while attending individual and group therapy sessions and receiving additional types of care, including meal monitoring and support, nutritional counseling, regular medical check-ins, and recreational activities.1

Who Offers Inpatient Treatment in North Carolina?

The Carolina House Eating Disorder Treatment Center provides a place where people with eating disorders can receive inpatient treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are another type of intensive care generally recommended for more severe cases. In these programs, patients will commute to treatment and return home to sleep, which is why PHPs are sometimes called day programs.

Still, schedules can be rigorous, with treatments taking place upwards of 10 hours a day, anywhere up to 5 days a week or more.1 During these sessions, patients receive much of the same type of care as those in residential treatment programs, which is also why PHPs are sometimes recommended for patients who require a lot of support but, for financial, familial, or other reasons, would struggle to live at a long-term facility.1

However, PHPs are generally more flexible than residential programs. As treatment continues and a patient progresses toward recovery, schedules will usually be adjusted to reflect those changes.

Who Offers Partial Hospitalization Programs in North Carolina?

Carolina House is an inclusive eating disorder treatment facility located in Durham. Among their many treatment offers are partial hospitalization programs.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is the least intensive level of care for eating disorders, generally involving regular meetings with a therapist or dietitian and periodic check-ins with a primary care physician or psychiatrist, especially if medication is part of a patient’s treatment regimen.

Patients are expected to commute to all outpatient sessions to keep up with care, so they must have their eating disorder symptoms under a good amount of control at this point in treatment.

Those needing more support can also try an intensive outpatient program (IOP). This level of care involves several weekly treatment sessions, generally lasting a few hours each. IOPs are also when many patients start incorporating other types of therapy, including family-based therapy (FBT) and support groups, into their routine.

Who Offers Outpatient Care in North Carolina?

The Renfrew Center in Charlotte is a well-established eating disorder treatment facility where several outpatient services, including individual and group therapy options, are available for North and South Carolina residents.

What to Look for in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center/Program in North Carolina

Options are always a good thing, but they can make it challenging to narrow down the best eating disorder treatment center for you or your loved one. When making this important decision, it’s best to keep certain considerations in mind.

When looking for eating disorder treatment in North Carolina, ensure the treatment center is accredited by the Joint Commission or CARF International. These accreditations indicate that a program has been examined by industry experts and has been found to meet or exceed industry standards.

It’s also important to make sure all doctors and therapists at the center are licensed to offer eating disorder treatment. A patchwork of national and state laws ensures this, but some businesses may still advertise as “treatment programs” while not meeting appropriate qualifications.

Most people researching eating disorder treatment are concerned about the cost of care. These programs are often expensive, but insurance is usually able to help.

If you have health insurance, you should call your provider to speak with a representative. These employees can point you in the direction of programs or doctors who may be in-network (and, therefore, less expensive and more likely to be covered) and answer any additional questions you may have.

Remember, some insurance policies will only cover specific treatments, some only cover care for limited periods of time, and some come with additional requirements like a patient trying outpatient care before they’re eligible for inpatient treatment coverage.

If you don’t have insurance, pursuing treatment is still crucial. Many treatment centers provide financial aid or other types of payment plans. Call the center you’re interested in to see what your options may be.

Ask the right questions

Finding the right type of care for eating disorders can feel overwhelming. You may not even be aware of your own expectations or priorities around the experience.

Asking these questions of yourself or any prospective treatment centers may help you get a clearer picture of what you’re looking for:3

  • Who will be helping you with your treatment, and how will they coordinate it?
  • Does the center have a philosophy about what kinds of people it treats? Does the center belong to any religious organizations?
  • How long has this center been operating?
  • How does the family fit into the treatment of a patient?
  • How many patients do you see per staff member, and how long have your staff worked at the center?

Finding Help for an Eating Disorder in North Carolina

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, it’s crucial to seek out help. These conditions are dangerous and can be deadly if not treated.

Your primary care physician or therapist are great places to start looking for help. These experts are generally knowledgeable about eating disorders and can help you secure an official diagnosis or point you in the direction of a successful program.

Some eating disorder hotlines can also provide additional information and resources. These services are generally free and run anonymously, making asking difficult or personal questions easier.

But regardless of where you look for help, the important thing is to start looking. It’s the first step toward a healthier and happier future.


  1. Levels of Care. (n.d.). University of California San Diego. Accessed December 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 December 2023.

Last Update | 02 - 6 - 2024

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