How to get help for an Eating Disorder – finding an eating disorder therapist that works for you

An eating disorder therapist having a meeting with one of their clients

If you are considering working with a Therapist on your food, weight and body image issues, it is important to do your research to ensure not only is the therapist the right fit for you but has the appropriate qualifications and experience to help you with your difficulties. To help you get past typing ‘eating disorder therapist near me’ into Google over and over, here are a few things to think about to get you started

Here are a few things to consider when seeking professional help for an eating disorder

Ask about their training

Sadly, there is a significant lack of mental health professionals trained in working with eating disorders. As well as this, too many counsellors that advertise themselves as capable of working in this area.  

Not to discredit my amazing peers but it is vital that the counsellors you choose to work with have specific training in Eating Disorders. It is completely appropriate for you to ask for details of where and when they completed training. You should also consider the duration of that training i.e. a half-day session versus training spanning several weeks.  Eating disorders are a complex and serious mental health condition. Regardless of the experience a counsellor might have, specialist training in this area is a must. Without the proper training, there is a risk that medical red flags could be overlooked by someone lacking appropriate knowledge

Ask about their way of working

Consider whether the counsellor’s modality is something that you are interested in. For example, are you looking for someone that is CBT based or looking for a more integrative approach?  You can learn more about the different modality types here

Ask the counsellor about how their therapeutic interventions apply to help for an eating disorder.  For example, a CBT Therapist could work with you to challenge your unhelpful ‘all or nothing’ thinking about food and create more supportive habits and routines around eating.  But CBT experience alone may not be sufficient as the therapist may not have an understanding of the physiological drivers of binge eating such as caloric restriction or blood sugar imbalance.  Ideally want to find a therapist that does have knowledge of basic nutritional medicine. 

Ask about their history of disordered eating

Although this is not essential, a lot of counsellors that go on to specialise in this niche do so because of their own personal experience. You may feel more reassured to be working with someone that has an understanding of what you are going through.  They will also have an understanding of the conflicted feelings you might have about seeking treatment. With the possible fear of loss of control and concern about how you might cope without the eating disorder.  They should be able to share wisdoms with you that demonstrate their knowledge of eating disorders. Above all, you should feel seen, heard and understood by your potential counsellor.

What supervision do they undertake?

Every counsellor is required to have monthly supervision to ensure they are practising within the ethical guidelines of their regulating body.  In supervision, we discuss client cases in confidence and take advice about how to go forward. Ideally, your counsellor should be receiving regular supervision from a supervisor with extensive experience in working with eating disorders.

Specialist supervision also ensures the professional is working within their competence, using a multi-disciplinary approach where needed and knowing when to refer a client for alternative support.

I hope you found this helpful.  If you are experiencing distress over your eating and are seeking professional help for an eating disorder, I may be able to help.  I am a BACP Accredited CBT Therapist specialising in binge eating disorders and am trained by The National Centre for Eating Disorders.  Find out how I can help with your eating disorder in the UK and Ireland, get in contact to discuss how I can support you.

Read more blog posts: Why you shouldn’t comment on someone’s weight loss, HALT: A tool to curb emotional overeating

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