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The Pros And Cons To Eating Disorder Treatment Options

In my last post I wrote about the different treatment options available to individuals and families who are struggling. As mentioned, I am following it up with the pros and cons to each. I found it more difficult to write this section than I expected largely because what makes something a pro or a con is based highly on the individual. The list I have composed here comes predominantly from things I have read and client experiences. While there are many things I could add to each treatment option I chose to try to keep it to a few main points under each. If you are struggling, hopefully this list will give you some more information on what may or may not be the right treatment option for you. If you have additional feedback on any of these options I would love to hear it in the comment section below.



  • They are available from anywhere in the world at any time.eating disorder recovery options
  • They offer tips and resources on eating disorders and how to recover
  •  They are free.
  • When we are further along in our recovery, they can provide us with enough support to keep moving forward.


  • They aren’t personalized and so the information they provide, while helpful, is also generalized and doesn’t take into account your own personal needs.
  • Your story matters and being able to share it with someone who can support you is a critical recovery piece.
  • Predominantly informational which is typically insufficient for recovery

Support Groups:


  • Individuals are supported and understood while also learning from others insights and perspectives
  • Groups are more affordable (if they aren’t covered) and sometimes run frequently which means you can get support multiple times in one week.
  • Typically facilitated by many different professionals which means you can get information from different experts in the field (nurses, dieticians, counsellors).


  • Groups don’t typically take a tailored approach which means your personal recovery needs may go unmet.
  • Many are more psychoeducational in nature which can prevent you from really exploring the underlying struggles that cause you to engage with your eating disorder
  • Groups can be more triggering because each member can be in a different place in their recovery and/or certain members have personalities that differ drastically from yours making it harder to feel safe.



  • Your unique story gets heard and processed
  • Your triggers and patterns are explored and understood so you can develop healthier approaches to dealing with your emotions and your body.
  • The focus is only on you and what is needed for you to recover which means getting at the root of the problem is more easily achieved
  • Your treatment plan is customized to your needs and where you are in your recovery journey.


  • Counselling is expensive
  • Counselling success is heavily dependent upon finding a counsellor you connect with. If the therapeutic relationship isn’t strong it can be really difficult to feel completely safe opening up.
  • We sometimes have to try a few people before we find the right one.
  • Typically a longer term investment

In-Patient Treatment:


  • Medical stabilization is provided and you receive treatment from a multifaceted team (doctors, nurses, counsellors, dieticians, psychiatrists).
  • You are removed from your daily life which prevents you from engaging in the destructive eating disorder behaviors.
  • These programs are also typically covered by medical which means they are free.


  • You are sheltered from your regular life which doesn’t teach you how to adequately deal with stressors when they arise once you are back at home.
  • Hospital programs are very clinical which, while necessary at times, can feel cold and unsafe.
  • Greater focus on treating the disorder than on treating the whole person which can leave individuals without the skills to maintain progress once released from the program.

 Out-Patient Programs:


  • Similar to Groups, out-patient programs give you the opportunity to connect with others and to receive support from different professionals.
  • These programs address more aspects of recovery than support groups alone and can provide you with medical support/supervision if needed.


  • Due to the number of appointments that are often required in out-patient it can make it difficult to be employed.
  • Additionally, the counselling is typically group counselling which means your specific needs won’t always be met.

Treatment facilities:


  • These facilities remove us from our typical environment.
  • 24 hour support
  • Often they have a whole person approach and require you to participate in different forms of therapy (group, individual, art).
  • While challenging, the meal support and requirements can help individuals overcome their eating disorder behaviors.


  • Treatment facilities are typically private and therefore incredibly expensive.
  • While necessary at times, it can be really difficult for an individual to have to leave their life (school, work, family, activities) behind while in treatment.
  • Many don’t support an individual as they transition back into their home environment. This can increase risk of relapse because individuals go from having 24/hour support to having none overnight.
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Julia W. September 12, 2014, 10:13 pm

    I think that so many people will find this SO helpful Kaela!!

  • Julius Wither Amberfield December 6, 2017, 1:34 am

    A friend of mine spoke to me last night and said that she has the feeling that she’s suffering from an eating disorder that she can’t stop. Personally, I think it’s good that she acknowledges the problem and is willing to take necessary steps to stop it. The only thing missing is professional help. I like how you said that in-patient treatment is beneficial in a way that the person is removed from her daily life which in turn prevents her from engaging in self-destructive eating behaviors. Thanks for sharing the thought. I’ll keep that in mind.

    • kaela June 20, 2018, 3:22 am

      Hi Julius, I am so sorry, somehow I missed your comment. So happy to hear this was helpful. I hope your friend is doing ok!

  • Taylor Hansen July 15, 2020, 2:59 pm

    Thanks for mentioning how counseling can help identify triggers to help with a healthier approach to your emotions. My sister has had some struggles with an eating disorder and our family is worried about her and her well-being. We’ll have to help her find a good therapist that specializes in eating disorders.

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