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What does an Anorexia Therapist do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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An anorexia therapist is a mental health professional who provides services to patients with anorexia. This work can include inpatient and outpatient therapy, and the therapist may work with patients over the long term to identify and discuss disordered eating habits after the initial anorexia has been treated. People like psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, and pediatricians can all work as anorexia therapists.

Treatment of anorexia involves managing a number of different aspects of the patient's condition. For patients with acute malnutrition caused by anorexia, getting the patient physically healthy is an important priority. In addition, mental health care is needed to explore the causes of the anorexia and to provide counseling to help patients move into recovery. This can include a variety of therapeutic approaches, and often, a patient care team is required to meet the patient's mental and physical needs, headed by an anorexia therapist.

The anorexia therapist meets with patients and their families to talk about the condition, develop a treatment plan, and set goals for treatment. With inpatient therapy, patients may see their therapists daily in both private and group sessions. Outpatients may report daily for treatment at first, gradually spending less time in therapy as they get more stable. Anorexia therapists can also visit patients at home and may use home visits to identify issues of concern that are not apparent in the hospital or clinic.

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Patients with anorexia often report that this eating disorder is a lifelong disease, requiring a consistent care regimen for life, as opposed to interventional treatment followed by no additional care. Part of the work of an anorexia therapist can include patient follow-up and working with patients on plans for managing their conditions for life, including regular therapy, meetings with nutritionists, and so forth. For people with anorexia who are also athletes, the anorexia therapist may work with people like coaches and teammates to develop a plan for keeping the patient healthy.

This work can vary widely in scope and pay grades are also variable, depending on someone's experience and level of skill. The location where a therapist works can also have an impact on pay. For people working at inpatient clinics, benefits may be an important aspect of pay and highly reputable clinics may pay a recruiting bonus to particularly talented and experienced therapists, with the goal of providing their patients with the highest level of care possible. The work can be emotionally stressful and requires cooperating with many different medical providers to cover all aspects of a patient's care.

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