Treatments and tests

Therapy for eating disorders

There are a range of different therapies that are effective in the treatment of eating disorders in children and adolescents.

Individual therapy

Individual therapy is offered to the young person who is experiencing the symptoms of an eating disorder. The therapist may be trained as a clinical psychologist, occupational therapist, nurse therapist, social worker or psychiatrist.

Individual therapy is usually offered in conjunction with group therapy, parenting groups, family therapy, and alongside medical, dietetic and physical care.

What happens in individual therapy?

The type of individual therapy is based on factors such as age and developmental stage of the young person, the type of eating disorder they have and how motivated they are to change their unhealthy eating patterns. The goals of therapy are decided by the young person and their therapist, and are reviewed regularly. The therapist will also discuss issues of confidentiality, frequency of therapy and any alternative therapy options.

Group therapy

Group therapy complements individual, family, medical and nutritional interventions. Participants have the opportunity of learning and gaining support from others who have similar problems.

Group programs for adolescents

Adolescent groups provide information, support and therapy for adolescents. They also provide young people with an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation. Peer mentoring groups are also beneficial.

Group programs for parents

The program offers a variety of group programs for parents of the young person receiving the service and includes orientation, knowledge and skill building, a father’s group, parent and extended family support.

Family therapy

The Eating Disorders Program at Princess Margaret Hospital is committed to the wellbeing of the family and the individual. Eating disorders and hospitalisation can be extremely stressful for the whole family.

Family therapy provides the opportunity for family members and the young person to meet with a therapist/s to discuss relationship issues. It assists to better understand relationships within the family and can be an important part of the recovery process. Such therapy can enable families to harness skills, knowledge, and expertise to bring about change.

Sometimes it is helpful to bring families together in a group format. This is provided as part of the parent support groups or as part of family groups.

Where to get help

  • Eating Disorders Program, Specialised Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Princess Margaret Hospital.
  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

Acknowledgements
Child and Adolescent Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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