People often react emotionally to a diagnosis of an eating disorder and because of the anxiety, the family and the client are often not able to discern the best treatments. With this confusion in mind, the non-profit National Eating Disorder Association has generated some very useful generalities about differing levels of care and the rationales, first and foremost being to stabilize the client, and as it becomes possible, to interrupt the presenting behavior and then to address the underlying mental issues with co-occur and may be triggering the eating disorder.
Variation within each of these goals translates to spectrums of treatment, with inpatient (hospital-style) interventions for the most serious clients. An inpatient level of care restricts the client’s ability to relapse and the medical supervision is often necessary to provide some flexibility for the family.
Residential care is recommended if the psychiatric co-morbidity requires high-supervision and support.
A stepped-down option of partial inpatient becomes optional if client still has frequent relapses but can benefit from the social support and regular outpatient therapy.
For clients with eating disorder history but who have the behavior in check (in recovery), support groups meet regularly and promote resilience and healthy responses to the regular stressors of life.