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  • Writer's pictureCarly Onopa

Why Do I Need a Treatment Team?

Why do I need a treatment team?

An eating disorder is a complex, serious and potentially fatal mental illness and physical illness that is associated with disturbances in a person’s eating behavior and related thoughts and emotions. Quality eating disorder treatment targets these different aspects of eating disorder treatment.

Therefore, it is recommended to have an interdisciplinary treatment team.

What does interdisciplinary treatment team mean?

Great question! Interdisciplinary means “between disciplines”. This means having people that have different expertise coming together to help someone in all areas of their eating disorder recovery.

Who makes the team?

The team starts with the person diagnosed with an eating disorder and seeking support. This person is the star of the team and is who the other teammates rally around to support and encourage. This teammate’s role is to show up, share their experience, and work collaboratively with other team members on their recovery process.

The team also includes support people. A support person is any person that could provide practical, behavioral, and/or emotional support. This may include parents, caregivers, spouses, siblings, friends, coworkers, etc. These are the people that will help the person with an eating disorder in their day-to-day recovery process by helping with mealtime accountability, coaching their loved one to use coping skills, driving them to appointments, being a shoulder to cry on, and more.

A therapist is a great teammate in eating disorder recovery. An eating disorder therapist knows how to identify an eating disorder, implement evidenced-based therapeutic approaches to treat psychological aspects of the eating disorder, address barriers to treatment, address co-occurring conditions, explore root causes, and more.

A dietitian is another great teammate in eating disorder recovery. An eating disorder dietitian is able to identify and challenge harmful thoughts and beliefs about food, explain the role and importance of adequate nutrition for physical and mental health, prescribe nutrition to help heal medical complications related to the eating disorder, offer meal support, explore a relaxed approach to eating and movement, and more.

A physician is a critical teammate in eating disorder recovery. While eating disorders are a mental illness, they also have very real medical complications. A physician with eating disorder experience can identify an eating disorder and monitor and alleviate medical complications by conducting physical examinations, monitoring growth patterns and labs, prescribing medication, and more.

It's important to note that there also may be other key players, which may include a psychiatrist, family therapist, coach, rehabilitation facility, occupational therapist, physical therapist, exercise scientist.

How do I make the most of treatment with an interdisciplinary team?

There are a couple of things that an individual can do to make the most of their treatment experience:

  1. Show up to appointments. This can be a challenge but consistency in appointments allows your teammates to best support you and help you progress in your recovery process.

  2. Share your successes and challenges. Understand that your team wants to celebrate your successes as much as we want to help you navigate your challenges. Your team is in place to help you recover!

  3. Allow your team to communicate with one another. Communication is critical between team members so that way everyone is moving in the same direction. Imagine if a basketball team didn’t communicate with one another about the play they are running – it wouldn’t go super well!

  4. Do your homework. It is common that your providers will encourage you to do at home assignments. These are meant to help you practice recovery-focused thinking and behaviors in between appointments.

In Summary

Eating disorders are complex mental and physical illnesses and it’s beneficial to have a interdisciplinary team that can address the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of eating disorder recovery.

If you find that you need an eating disorder dietitian in your eating disorder recovery journey, please contact me for individual nutrition counseling.


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