Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment for Eating Disorders…What People Are Really Saying About Their Treatment

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According to recent result’s of Dr. Norton’s online survey, in which more than 125 people have participated, Out-Patient Psychotherapy was found to be the most therapeutic of the following treatment options: Hospitalization for medical stability, Forced weight gain via feeding tube, In-Patient residential, In-Patient therapy group, Out-Patient psychotherapy, Out-Patient therapy group, Over Eaters Anonymous, Nutritional Counseling and Gastric Bypass Surgery.

Participants in Dr. Norton’s Survey rated their forms of treatment as follows:

Out-Patient Psychotherapy

*39.7% found Out-Patient Psychotherapy to be Very Therapeutic and

*36.2% found it to be Somewhat Therapeutic

*3.4% felt that this therapy did more harm than good

In-Patient Residential

*20.9% found In-Patient residential treatment to be Very Therapeutic and

*33.9% found it to be Somewhat Therapeutic

*18.3% felt that In-Patient Therapy did them more harm than good

Limitations of In-Patient Treatment

The learning taking place often does not  generalize to the home environment.  Patients are put on meal plans and are monitored 24/7 by staff such that they are not really learning to make new choices.  Also the daily stressors of family dynamics, school/work pressures and social demands are not present.  The patient has been removed from daily triggers that may have contributed to the eating-disorder in the first place.  Finally this treatment can also be very costly and often results in no insurance coverage as many HMO’s will not cover once the person has been in-patient.

Pro’s of Out-Patient Treatment.

Out-Patient Treatment, especially if it includes Family Treatment, allows the individual to deal with the eating disorder in their everyday setting and provides an atmosphere conducive for family involvement which can be key to recovery.  This method also involves persistent effort for the person with the eating-disorder to get better on their own.  Finally Out-Patient is more cost effective when compared to In-Patient treatment.

Our Strategy: We approach the problem by aligning with the patient rather than colluding against her, blaming her, or casting her in the role of someone who is incapacitated.  While those suffering from an eating disorder do have severe and/or debilitating distortions regarding food, weight and body image, they will ultimately have to choose for themselves whether or not to face their fears and change their relationship with food.  Taking away control only delays that decision and may have serious side effects.

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2009, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

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