Take a deep breath. By reading this information, you are already taking the first step in your recovery. By choosing to acknowledge the role an eating disorder has taken in your life and consider treatment, you have already taken action. Whether this is your first time receiving services or you have sought treatment in the past, even the idea of recovery can feel overwhelming— and that’s OK. This is a process and each step forward is positive, no matter how significant it feels.
For most people, residential treatment is a necessary step in the recovery journey. Learn more about what you can expect from a residential eating disorder treatment program in this article.
Inpatient vs. Residential Eating Disorder Treatment
There are a few key differences between inpatient and residential eating disorder treatment programs. Inpatient treatment is traditionally conducted in a medical hospital setting, with a main goal of medical stabilization. You participate in therapy but have the primary portion of your care provided by a medical team. Inpatient care is considered short-term until you are medically stable.
Residential treatment is conducted in a more homelike environment. You will stay in a bedroom and share living space with other program participants. The focus of a residential program is treating the psychological and emotional aspects of your eating disorder, but you will still have 24-hour access to medical staff to ensure you are provided the best care possible.
Generally, residential treatment is recommended for a minimum 28 days. However, the average length of stay is 83 days, according to the International Journal of Eating Disorders. However, the final decision on program length is entirely up to you and your treatment team. Residential treatment is also completely voluntary; you make the choice to come, stay and participate in the program.
What Is a Typical Day of Residential Treatment Like?
Specific programming varies depending on the treatment facility, but most programs include group therapy, individual counseling, nutrition education sessions, family therapy and holistic therapies such as yoga and meditation. Each day, you will work with professionals, including dietitians, therapists, psychiatrists, medical doctors and holistic practitioners to overcome an eating disorder.
Clinician-supported meals are an integral part of residential treatment. You will eat snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner with your peers and the treatment staff. At times, you will be guided through the process of preparing your own meals. These guided meal prep sessions are designed to decrease anxiety around food and teach you practical skills. The goal is to help process and develop skills that prepare you for life outside of treatment.
Although the day is scheduled out, you will still have periods of down time. On the weekends, there will be recreational activities available in the surrounding community. Some programs also include scheduled outings such as trips to the grocery store or restaurants to practice the skills you’ve been building in treatment.
See what a typical day at Seeds of Hope at Mountainside is like.
While each treatment facility will use a different approach and daily schedule, residential eating disorder treatment has proven to be effective. According to a meta-analysis published in European Eating Disorders Review, residential programs have proven to improve quality of life, decrease anxiety and assist with psychotherapy and healthy weight maintenance.
How Many People Are in a Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Program?
The number of participants in a program can vary widely. Many treatment centers list the program capacity on their website; if not, you can contact the treatment center and ask.
Consider whether you would prefer a large group or a smaller group. Many people prefer a small group setting because it allows them to bond more closely with fellow participants. Group therapy will almost certainly be a part of your treatment as it helps establish community and allows participants to feel less alone in the recovery process, so it’s important to have a group size you feel comfortable opening up to.
Moreover, when interviewing treatment options, look for the clinician to participant ratio. This will give you an idea of how much individualized attention you will receive from treatment staff.
How Do I Know if This Type of Treatment Is for Me?
If you’re considering residential eating disorder treatment, research and compare different programs to see which ones might be a good fit for you. Read through the program information on the center’s website to get an idea of what treatment will be like.
You can also call the treatment center’s admissions line and ask any questions you have. Educating yourself can feel overwhelming at times, but it can help ease your worry before starting treatment.
Seeds of Hope at Mountainside has a 24-hour admissions line staffed by friendly counselors.
Keep in mind that the closest treatment option is not always the best one for you. You may want to travel farther to enroll in a program you feel will provide you the best care for your individual needs.
How Do I Start Treatment?
Once you’re ready to being treatment, call the admissions line for a formal intake. They will obtain necessary information and coordinate your arrival to the program. Some treatment centers will send a staff member to meet you at the airport, train station or bus station. They may even drive you to the treatment center.
Once you’ve arrived at the center, you will receive your room assignment and have a chance to settle in. You may be given a medical exam and mental health evaluation so that the treatment team can create an individualized treatment plan for you. Each person’s recovery journey looks different, so it’s important that you receive the individualized attention you need while in the program.
What Happens After Residential Eating Disorder Treatment?
After you complete a residential program, you will be referred to appropriate aftercare for continued support in your recovery process. Most individuals “step down” to a lower level of care after residential, such as Partial Hospitalization or Intensive Outpatient.
You may also benefit from outpatient support groups as well as outpatient medical and psychiatric care. Since aftercare planning is always a part of residential treatment, the staff will connect you with appropriate support in your community before you leave the treatment center.
Looking for a Residential Treatment Program?
If you feel residential treatment may be a good option for you or a loved one, check out Seeds of Hope. Seeds of Hope provides a healing experience in a serene environment tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. Treatment methods promote whole-person healing and incorporate a variety of traditional and holistic therapies. Get connected now and call (610)644-6464.