Choosing an eating disorder clinic: 5 key things to look for

Seeking the right treatment for your eating disorder is an essential step in the recovery process. But, with so many eating disorder clinics out there, it’s hard to know which might be the best one for you.

In this post, we’ll share the key things to consider, the red flags to look out for, and the questions to ask to help you when you’re choosing an eating disorder clinic that’s right for you and your needs.


1) Specialisation and expertise

Specialism and expertise are two of the most important things to look for when seeking treatment for your eating disorder.

Working with eating disorders is an incredibly specialised area. It requires an understanding of both the psychological and physical risks associated with this illness, so that we – as therapists – can keep you safe.

We therefore recommend you ask what specific experience a clinic has of working with eating disorders. Any that don’t have specialised experience should be avoided, this is a clear red flag.

At Altum Health, we have a range of specialists including psychologists, dieticians, and psychiatrists. All have specialised eating disorder experience, and the majority have worked in a major eating disorder service within the NHS.

This means that our team has been trained in and has experience of the eating disorder treatments recommended by NICE guidelines, but also plenty of personal expertise so that they can branch out and be more flexible, tailoring our treatments to meet our clients’ needs.


2) A joined-up approach

If you’re looking for a private clinic, we recommend choosing an eating disorder clinic that’s willing to work with your entire treatment team; a joined-up treatment plan will lead to better, more effective, overall care.

The best way to evaluate this, if you’re also being seen by the NHS, or another psychiatrist, is to ask the eating disorder clinic whether they’re willing to liaise with them. If they’re not, that’s another red flag.

At Altum Health, our multi-disciplinary expertise makes it possible for your treatment plan to include a therapist, dietician, and psychiatrist, all within one practice.

We’re also strong advocates of ‘joined-up’ treatment and are well used to communicating and working with other professionals for each of our clients. This makes life easier for our clients, and easier for the people supporting them with their recovery journey.


3) A range of appropriate treatment plans

Treatment plans should be both appropriate and personalised to your needs.

Different clinics and indeed, clinicians, will take different therapeutic approaches:

  • Some are more behavioural and active, looking at making changes in the present, for example, using CBT alongside tasks to complete at home in between sessions.
  • Others are more exploratory and relational, looking at the factors that led to the development and maintenance of your difficulties.

When you’re in the process of choosing an eating disorder clinic, it’s important to communicate what’s worked for you before and what hasn’t. We typically discuss this during our initial consultation, working with our clients to understand their preferences, while making sure our approach aligns with our clients’ goals and values.

It’s also crucial to be clear about what it is you’re looking for, and the kind of help that you need. For example, there are some excellent body image coaches out there, but working with one of those is different from psychological treatment. Similarly, if you’re under 18 and living at home, a clinic that offers family-based treatment is highly recommended for the best results.

At Altum Health, we offer a broad range of different treatments, including CBT-E, body-based approaches, trauma-focused therapy, schema therapy, and family-based therapy for younger people.

And if we’re not able to offer the treatment you need, for example, day patient or in-patient care, we’ll connect you with people who can.


4) Accreditations and credentials

Lack of accreditation and credentials is a huge red flag for anyone seeking help from an eating disorder clinic.

Having these means that the clinic is accredited by a reputable organisation and has a qualified team. But what does that look like in practice?

At Altum Health, every member of our clinical team is registered with the appropriate governing body for their profession.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Psychologists and dieticians registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
  • Psychotherapists registered with the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
  • Psychiatrists registered with the General Medical Council (GMC).

We’re also proud to have been approved by the NHS as one of its chosen providers of specialist eating disorder treatment.

Remember to also check out the online reviews for the eating disorder clinic you’re considering to get a feel for what previous clients have to say about their experiences, too.


5) Continuing care and support

Finally, eating disorder recovery is a journey. Any eating disorder clinics that promise ‘quick fixes’ or a focus on weight loss should be avoided at all costs.

Eating disorders are complex mental health illnesses. They require specialist treatments to address the underlying issues that lead to using food in unhealthy ways. Losing weight is not the goal.

Our role as therapists is to equip you with the appropriate tools, strategies, and support so that you can look after yourself; you won’t need therapy forever.

The relationship between you and your therapist is also really important. Ask about the process and what to expect – how often will they check-in on you, for example.

All our clients are part of the Altum Health community. Once you’ve been seen by us, we’re always here for you. Whether you hit a bump in the road and need a few top up sessions, or you keep in touch via our blog, social media, and resources, we’re here to offer continued support.

A big part of your recovery is learning to trust yourself again. So, if you’re choosing an eating disorder clinic, my best advice is to ‘follow your gut’ and I’m sure you’ll find the right eating disorder clinic for your needs.

Take care,

Dr Courtney

Take the first step to feeling better. Book your free 20-minute consultation here.

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