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Different Levels of Teen Eating Disorder Treatment

Teen Eating Disorder Treatment | ParadigmMalibu.com

All psychological disorders require some form of treatment. If there’s a diagnosis then the disorder has developed far enough to necessitate professional attention. In fact, defining a disorder is not random. It is based on the definition of abnormal behavior, which psychologists have defined psychologically, culturally, and statistically.  For instance, behavior is considered abnormal if it statistically falls outside of the range of behaviors that most other human beings engage in. If a person is flailing his or her arms and yelling, which is behavior most others don’t do, then it’s considered abnormal.

Other ways to determine abnormal behavior is if a person’s behavior or thought pattern leads to an inability to adapt or cope with circumstances. Or if cultural norms are not being followed with certain behavior, that is also considered abnormal. However, most importantly, behavior that impairs a person’s ability to function in life is also considered to be abnormal, and abnormal behavior is what psychological disease is founded upon. The inability to enjoy life, have significant relationships, function at work, or do well in school is considered behavior that points to the need for psychological professional help.

Levels of Treatment

Of course, depending on a teen’s needs, the level of treatment may vary. The following is a list of treatment levels from the least to most intense.

Outpatient – A teen may need support with his or her eating disorder, but it is not severe enough to require admittance to a hospital. He or she works with a therapist, a dietician, and a medical doctor periodically to address the physical and psychological needs. However, an adolescent with an eating disorder receives outpatient treatment from home. A teen must have a fair amount of motivation to change and his or her needs must not be severe for this level of care to be effective.

Intensive Outpatient – At this level of care, a teen also receives treatment while living at home. However, the amount of time working with professionals has increased to about 15-20 hours per week. Also, an adolescent involved at this level of care must have a body weight that is sufficient for daily functioning and does not possess any threats to his or her physical health. Again, there must be a fair amount of motivation and commitment for treatment to be effective.

Partial Hospitalization Program – At this level of care, a teen with an eating disorder is spending about 40 hours per week at a hospital addressing his or her physical and psychological needs. However, the remainder of the time, he or she is living at home. Time at treatment hospital has increased because that teen needs a fair amount of structure to ensure that he or she is not engaging in teen eating disorder patterns.

Residential Treatment Facility – Teens at this is level of care are participating in treatment all day, everyday. They live at a treatment center so that their eating habits can be monitored where their daily activities are highly structured. At this level, a teen likely has very little motivation to change; however, their physical and psychological needs are severe.

Inpatient Hospitalization – Teens at this level have been admitted to a hospital in order to address severe physical concerns. For instance, there might be tube feedings, intense medical stabilization, low weight, and severe lab abnormalities. Teens at this level of treatment have been admitted to a hospital in order to save their lives.

The various levels of care that teen eating disorders require are typical for other types of addiction as well. Teen eating disorders are a complex psychological illness and require the attention of professionals from both the medical and the psychological communities. If a teen is willing and participatory, eventually, he or she can heal from the illness. Though, like any addiction, the chance for relapse may remain.

If your teen is exhibiting signs of this disorder, find a local professional to have him or her assessed and properly treated.



By Robert Hunt
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