What Can I Do Next? Researching a Treatment Center and Learning About What Happens in Recovery

There are many difficult stages associated with eating disorders. The first most difficult stage is recognizing and understanding your diagnosis. The subsequent difficult stages after this realization are finding a reputable treatment center that you trust and entering the journey into recovery after you have successfully completed treatment for your eating disorders.

Find a treatment center that best fits your needs

Not every treatment center and treatment approach is the same. Some therapies may work for other individuals but may not necessarily work for you, as this is never a “one size fits all” approach. It is important to research eating disorder treatment centers that have an established reputation within the community. Look for a licensed eating disorder treatment center that treats eating disorders, co-occurring disorders and trauma. It is also important to be able to trust your therapist and treatment team and develop a relationship with them. Also consider treatment centers that have an established alumni or aftercare program, accept most medical insurance, offer financial assistance or payment plans, are fully accredited, and who treat the individual and not the disorder.

Strategies to develop while in treatment

Treatment and recovery is a two-way street. Your treatment center must offer appropriate care and you must work with the therapists to be open and honest and practice the skills you learn in therapy.

  • Remain patient
  • Be honest with your eating disorder
  • Learn to recognize your triggers
  • Openly communicate your triggers, feelings and challenges to your therapist
  • Trust the process
  • Avoid environments and individuals that can bring harm to your recovery process
  • Develop a strong support system
  • Learn which coping skills work best for you
  • Try to stay positive
  • Keep an open mind
  • Establish a relapse prevention plan
  • Know what to do in case you do relapse
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your disorder
  • Learn to love and accept yourself as you are
  • Fully experience every emotion
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable with people you trust
  • Don’t ever neglect your therapy or other components of your treatment
  • Stay humble
  • Engage in healthy relationships
  • Find an eating disorder support group

The transition into recovery in the real world

When you are back in the real world (working to earn money, doing housework, walking your dog, and grocery shopping) there is no individual who is going to “watch over you” like they were while you were receiving acute treatment for your eating disorder. You are responsible for your own actions and decisions. You may feel like you are constantly around people or environments where you feel pressured to make poor decisions about your diet or engage in behaviors such binging or purging that can result in relapse. But these are your choices to make and you are now in control. Your support system in recovery will most likely consist of therapists, nutritionists, friends, doctors and family members but at the end of the day you have to make your own individual choice to eat right and maintain your goal body weight, whatever that may be.

Here are some things to keep in mind during the transition from being in acute treatment to being released into the “real world” of recovery:

  • Be honest with yourself. If you or your therapist believes you are not ready to leave inpatient care and transition into a lower level of care then trust this decision.
  • Surround yourself with people who will support you. You will have enough triggers and urges to work through in recovery. You do not want to be around people who are negative or may tempt you in your recovery.
  • Rely on your support system. If you feel a rush of negative feelings that you may not be able to control, call a friend, family member, therapist or go to a support group. These people are here to help you through rough days.
  • Practice the tools you learned in therapy. You went through weeks or months of therapy to learn coping skills and tools to help you throughout the rest of your life. Whether it is mindfulness, meditation, learning to dissociate your thoughts through cognitive behavior therapy or simply walking away from the negative situation; your tools are there to be practiced on a daily basis and not just when you are in a tough spot.