Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment at Sun County Wellness

outpatient eating disorder treatment

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Clinically Reviewed By Brittany Astrom - LMFT

Brittany has 15 years of experience in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse field. Brittany has been licensed for almost 8 years and has worked in various settings throughout her career, including inpatient psychiatric treatment, outpatient, residential treatment center, PHP and IOP settings.

How Can an Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment Program Help?

Outpatient eating disorder treatment involves receiving therapy and support from a team of professionals while living at the person at home and maintaining daily responsibilities. It is a more flexible and less intensive form of care compared to inpatient treatment, which requires patients to stay at a residential facility for a certain period of time.

Flexibility and Autonomy

Outpatient treatment offers a level of flexibility that allows individuals to integrate their recovery with their daily lives. Patients can schedule therapy sessions around their work, school, or family commitments, giving them the autonomy to manage their time and obligations effectively.

Stepped Care Approach

Outpatient treatment can be used as a step-down treatment after completing a higher level of care, such as inpatient or a partial hospitalization program. This stepped care approach allows for a gradual reduction in treatment intensity, which can be crucial for sustainable recovery.

Involvement of Family and Friends

Another key aspect of outpatient care is the potential for family and friends to be actively involved in the patient’s recovery process. Loved ones can participate in therapy sessions and learn how to best support the patient, creating a stronger support system at home.

Diverse Treatment Modalities

Patients in inpatient and outpatient programs also have access to a variety of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This diversity allows for a comprehensive approach to treatment, addressing multiple aspects of the eating disorder.

Eating Disorders: Understanding the Different Types and Their Impact

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses characterized by unhealthy relationships with food and distorted body image. These conditions can have severe physical and emotional consequences, affecting individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the various types of eating disorders and shed light on their impact on those who struggle with them.

Types of Eating Disorders

  1. Anorexia Nervosa: Individuals with anorexia nervosa have an intense fear of gaining weight and severely restrict their food intake, often leading to significant weight loss and malnutrition. They may have a distorted body image, seeing themselves as overweight even when they are dangerously underweight.

  2. Bulimia Nervosa: This disorder involves a cycle of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, laxative misuse, excessive exercise, or fasting. These behaviors are driven by a fear of weight gain and a preoccupation with body shape and size.

  3. Binge Eating Disorder: Individuals with binge eating disorder experience recurring episodes of eating large amounts of food in a short period, often accompanied by feelings of guilt, shame, and loss of control. Unlike bulimia, binge eating episodes are not followed by compensatory behaviors.

  4. Other Specified Feeding or EatingDisorder (OSFED): OSFED encompasses a range of disordered eating patterns that do not meet the full criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder but still cause significant distress and impairment.

Impact of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can have devastating consequences for both physical and mental health. These conditions can lead to a range of medical complications, including:

  • Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies

  • Electrolyte imbalances

  • Cardiovascular problems

  • Gastrointestinal issues

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Osteoporosis

  • Fertility problems

In addition to the physical toll, eating disorders can take a heavy emotional and psychological toll. Individuals with eating disorders often experience:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Social isolation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Obsessive thoughts about food and weight

outpatient eating disorder treatment

Benefits of Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment

Treatment for eating disorders offers a range of benefits that can be particularly advantageous for those seeking flexibility and an individualized approach to recovery.

Maintaining a Sense of Normalcy

One of the biggest advantages of outpatient treatment is that it allows individuals to maintain a sense of normalcy and continue with their daily responsibilities. This can be especially helpful for those who have work or school commitments, as they can attend therapy sessions and appointments while still fulfilling their other obligations.

Patients can continue to live at home or structured living and engage with their community, which can be beneficial for their mental well-being. The opportunity to apply what they learn in therapy to real-life situations can also contribute to a more robust recovery program.

Consistency and Routine

Consistency and routine are often critical for individuals recovering from eating disorders. Treatment supports the establishment of a structured daily routine that includes regular meal times, therapy sessions, and self-care activities.

Reducing Stigma

Staying active in one’s usual environment can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health treatment. Patients can discreetly manage their recovery without having to explain extended absences that inpatient treatment would require.

Individualized Treatment

Aftercare treatment allows for a more individualized approach to treatment, as therapy sessions can be tailored to the specific needs of each patient.

Personalized Therapy Plans

Therapists can work closely with patients to develop therapy plans that specifically address their unique challenges and goals. This personalization is essential, as no two cases of eating disorders are exactly the same.

Ongoing Assessment and Adjustment

As patients progress, their treatment plans can be regularly assessed and adjusted by their care team. This ensures that the treatment remains relevant and effective throughout their recovery journey.

Focus on Specific Issues

Patients may have the opportunity to work on specific issues, such as body image or relationships, in a targeted manner, which might not be as feasible in a group-focused inpatient setting.


Compared to inpatient treatment, outpatient eating disorder treatment can be more cost-effective.

Lower Overhead Costs

Since patients do not need to stay in a residential facility, the overall cost of care is typically lower. The reduced overhead costs of outpatient care are often passed on to the patient, making it a more accessible option for many families.

Insurance and Payment Options

Many outpatient treatment programs accept insurance, which can greatly reduce out-of-pocket expenses for treatments. Additionally, these programs often offer payment plans or sliding scale fees to make treatment more affordable for those without insurance or with limited financial resources.

Value for Money

Outpatient care provides excellent value for money, as patients can receive high-quality treatment while also having the flexibility to maintain their employment and avoid the financial strain associated with taking extended time off work.

Access to a Support Network

Aftercare treatment provides individuals with access to a support network of professionals, family therapy and peers who understand what they are going through.

Professional Support

Having a dedicated team of therapists, dietitians, and medical professionals available provides a strong foundation for recovery. Regular appointments ensure that patients receive continuous professional support.

Peer Support

Many outpatient psychiatric programs offer group therapy or support groups, where patients can connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges. This peer support can be a source of comfort and encouragement.

Community Resources

Aftercare treatment also connects patients with community resources, such as support groups or educational workshops, which can complement their therapy and contribute to a more holistic recovery experience.

Flexibility in Scheduling

Outpatient treatment offers more flexibility in scheduling compared to inpatient treatment.

Accommodating Work and School

Sessions can be scheduled during non-working hours, making it easier for patients to balance their treatment with work or school. This flexibility ensures that recovery efforts do not disrupt their professional or educational pursuits.

Integration of Self-Care Practices

Patients can incorporate self-care practices, such as yoga or meditation, into their treatment plan without disrupting their daily routine. This holistic approach to medical management can enhance overall well-being and aid in the recovery process.

Tailored Session Frequency

The frequency of therapy sessions can be adjusted to meet the needs of the patient. Some may require more intensive support initially, with the frequency decreasing as they gain more independence and coping skills.

Continuity of Care

Outpatient treatment allows for a smooth transition from a higher level of care, such as inpatient or partial hospitalization, to a less intensive outpatient form of treatment.

Preventing Relapse

This continuity of care can help prevent relapse by providing ongoing support and reinforcement of healthy behaviors. Patients can feel secure knowing that they have a consistent care team to rely on throughout their recovery.

Frequent Check-Ins

More frequent check-ins with a therapist ensure that patients continue to receive the necessary support and guidance they need to maintain their progress. These regular interactions can help identify and address any emerging issues before they escalate.

Adjusting to Independence

As patients progress, the level of care can be gradually reduced, helping them adjust to greater independence in managing their eating disorder. This stepwise approach to independence can build confidence and self-efficacy.

Who Can Benefit from Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment?

Aftercare treatment can be beneficial for individuals with various types and severities of food and eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED).

A Spectrum of Eating Disorders

Patients with a wide spectrum of eating disorders can find outpatient treatment to be a suitable option. Whether they are dealing with restrictive eating patterns, binge-purge cycles, or disordered eating behaviors not otherwise specified, outpatient care can be tailored to meet their needs.

Co-occurring Disorders

It can also be helpful for those with co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, as outpatient treatment for weight, allows for a more integrated approach to care. This can be particularly important for achieving long-term recovery, as these disorders often interact with eating disorder symptoms.

Suitability Criteria

Outpatient treatment is generally recommended for individuals who are medically stable, do not require 24-hour medical supervision, and have a supportive home environment. It may not be suitable for some adults or those who are at immediate risk of harm to themselves or are unable to commit to attending regular therapy sessions.

Transitioning from Higher Levels of Care

Patients transitioning from inpatient or partial hospitalization programs may find outpatient treatment to be an ideal next step. This more outpatient program can facilitate a smoother adjustment to daily life while still providing the necessary level of support.

What to Expect from Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment

Outpatient treatment typically involves a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and nutritional counseling.

Comprehensive Therapeutic Approach

Patients may also attend specialized therapy sessions, such as art therapy nutrition counseling or yoga, to help them explore their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. These therapeutic approaches address various aspects of eating disorders, from psychological to physical to emotional.

Nutritional Guidance and Support

Nutritional counseling is an integral part of outpatient treatment, helping patients to establish and maintain healthy eating patterns. Dietitians work with patients to create individualized meal plans that meet their nutritional needs and support their recovery goals.

Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation

Throughout eating disorder outpatient treatment, patients are regularly monitored and evaluated to ensure that their recovery is on track. Adjustments to the treatment plan are made as needed, based on the patient’s evolving needs and the progress they are making.


Outpatient eating disorder treatment offers several benefits for individuals seeking help for an eating disorder. It allows for a more individualized approach to care, maintains a sense of normalcy, and provides access to a supportive network of professionals and peers. It is also a more flexible and cost-effective option compared to inpatient treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, consider exploring outpatient treatment as a viable option for recovery. With the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome an eating disorder and lead a fulfilling life.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help

At Sun County Wellness, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to Sun County Wellness today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 949-993-1149


Yes, one of the key advantages of outpatient treatment is its flexibility. Therapy sessions and appointments can often be scheduled around work or school commitments, allowing individuals to continue with their daily routines while receiving the necessary care.

While outpatient treatment is beneficial for a wide range of eating disorder cases, including severe ones, it’s crucial to assess individual needs. If a person requires 24/7 medical supervision or is at immediate risk, inpatient treatment might be more suitable.

Many insurance plans cover outpatient eating disorder treatment. It’s essential to check with your insurance provider to understand your specific coverage and benefits. Outpatient programs may also offer payment plans or sliding scale fees to make treatment more accessible.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), trauma-informed therapy, and support groups are effective treatment options for postpartum mental health conditions.

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