Eating Disorder Clinics

Eating disorder clinics are facilities that treat outpatients who suffer from or are recovering from eating disorders. While some eating disorder clinics serve a particular clientele, others serve anyone in need. Read on to learn more about eating disorder clinics.

What Is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders (ED) are problems that disturb the way a person treats food, leading to food being used in an unhealthy and/or unbalanced way. Eating disorders can include steps taken to limit food intake; eating excess food beyond what is needed to maintain the body; counteracting the effects of consuming food through excessive exercise, vomiting, fasting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas; or eating non-nutritive substances. Eating disorders that are common include anorexia (anorexia nervosa), bulimia (bulimia nervosa), and binge eating (binge eating disorder BED), but there are other eating disorders, sometimes referred to as EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) because of the way they are categorized in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition). Although some people associate eating disorders primarily with teen girls, eating disorders are experienced by boys and girls, as well as men and women.

What Are Eating Disorder Clinics?

Eating disorders can be very serious, and they sometimes require inpatient or residential treatment. A clinic, sometimes called an "outpatient clinic," is usually a fairly small, public or private facility that can provide ongoing, but intermittent, treatment while the patient attends to the normal demands of his or her life when not at the clinic. While some such clinics treat a wide range of disorders-essentially, whatever someone walks in with-there are specialized clinics for eating disorders, and these  eating disorder clinics specialize in treatment for eating disorders. They may also treat issues that tend to accompany eating disorders, such as depression.

Some eating disorder treatment organizations have also used the word clinic to refer to a residential facility for the treatment of eating disorders. This is confusing, because of the fairly standard meaning of clinic described above, and it means that you need to read information carefully to determine what eating disorder clinic means in the particular context. On the other hand, if you are seeking something other than the standard meaning of clinic, you will have better luck finding what you want by seeking with terms like Residential Treatment, Behavioral Healthcare Program, Therapeutic Boarding, and Outdoor Therapeutic Program.

When choosing a treatment option for an adolescent with an eating disorder, it is best to heed the advice of the teen's pediatrician. Although an outpatient experience may seem like the least disruptive to the teen's other life and activities, residential treatment may be advocated for reasons of health and safety.

What Are Some Eating Disorder Clinics?

Care for All Ages of Client

Some eating disorder clinics are not for an explicit teen population. Renfrew Center Eating Disorder Clinic claims to be the first residential eating disorder clinic, established in 1985. It has clinics in ten locations, and offers a range of services from outpatient care to transitional living to residential treatment to adolescents and women, and is accredited by the Joint Commission.

For specific teen treatment, you may seek outpatient care or residential care.

• Outpatient Care for Teens

Eating disorder clinics can sometimes be found associated with university medical centers or other hospital or healthcare facilities or medical schools. For example, the Adolescent Medicine division of the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford School of Medicine offers an Eating Disorders Clinic three days a week in order to provide both an initial comprehensive evaluation, as well as follow-up for children and teens with eating disorders. For other types of outpatient care for teens with eating disorders, the best approach is to consult the teen's pediatrician, the school nurse, or another healthcare professional with knowledge of the situation.

Residential Treatment for Teen Eating Disorders

If you are, in fact, looking for residential care options for your teen, a highly recommended resource, besides the teen's pediatrician, is the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, which lists only accredited programs. Many of the programs listed include an academic component (also accredited) so that teens can continue their education as they are undergoing treatment. To see a program, go to the program search page here and search for eating disorders in the keyword search (you can be more specific and search for the particular eating disorder if you like).


Related Article: Treatment for Eating Disorders >>