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How To Become An Eating Disorder Therapist

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Clarification Of Certificate Of Completion Vs Certification

How to PREVENT Eating Disorder Relapse in College | Kati Morton the Therapist discusses dietitians

Providers may offer evidence of training and qualifications by posting titles of certificates on their websites or displaying these certificates in their offices. A certificate of completion is not a certification it is a document that indicates completion of a class, workshop, webinar, conference, or a certain number of educational hours. For example, if a clinician attends an eating disorders class that was two hours, they often will receive that certificate of completion indicating that two hours of education were both attended and completed.

Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

The first step toward becoming an eating disorder therapist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling or a related field, such as social work. A bachelor’s degree takes four years of full-time study on average to complete. Taking coursework in the social sciences, research methods and natural sciences at the undergraduate level can help you prepare for more advanced study in a master’s or doctorate degree program. Some common classes for psychology undergraduate students include:

  • Abnormal psychology

  • Neuropsychology

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy is a mindfulness-based behavioral therapy. The goal is to teach people how to live meaningfully while accepting that pain is an inevitable part of life.

An looking at people living with eating disorders found those who received ACT were less likely to be re-hospitalized than those receiving standard treatment.

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Undergraduate Education For An Eating Disorder Specialist

To start, future eating disorder specialists will need a bachelor’s degree. Clinical psychology is the start to working hands-on with patients in the mental health and human services fields. Courses include introduction to psychology, behavioral sciences statistics, clinical psychology research methods, clinical methods, and abnormal psychology. Undergraduate students may also be able to specialize a degree with elective course work closely related to eating disorders or addictions.

What Skills Are Required For An Eating Disorder Therapist

Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment

As an eating disorder therapist, youll need to be firm, parental, compassionate, and empathetic. Eating disorder therapists need to have a solid understanding about various health boundaries, as well as be experienced in recognizing important clinical modalities. As an eating disorder therapist, youll need to have the ability to interpret the behaviors of a patient, as well as understanding the underlying reasons for why they think and behave the way that they do.

Due to the unique nature of their profession, eating disorder therapists should not only maintain a healthy body weight, but also be free from mental health disorders themselves including anxiety, depression, or PSD . In order to become the best eating disorder therapist possible, youll need to have good communication skills, be persuasive, and above all, be very patient. This combined skillsets will allow you to find more work as well as treat patients more effectively over the long run.

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Be Prepared To Understudy Multiple Roles Within The Treatment Team

In taking on the responsibility of case manager, it is up to the outpatient ED psychotherapist to put together an outpatient team of expert treatment professionals capable of tending to the broadbased needs of the ED patient throughout the course of care. Defying compartmentalization, ED symptoms need to be recognized and professionally managed by every member of the team. Wearing diverse professional hats, each team member acts as a representative of the wider healing process, capable of mediating all spheres of pathology. Particularly in smaller, less diverse, rural communities, where trained and experienced professionals may not be readily accessible, the need for an integration of knowledge, skill sets, and a multifaceted use of self becomes particularly critical. Members of the professional team, including medical doctor, psychopharmacologist, individual/family therapist, and nutritionist, need to understand and understudy each other’s parts, learning essentially to speak each other’s lines as needed, fluently, throughout the treatment process.

How To Become A Specialist In The Eating Disorder Field

Eating disorders are more widely known among the average person these days, however, this awareness has not yet translated to a reduction in diagnoses. As the impact of eating disorders continues to grow, so does the eating disorder treatment field. Many individuals passionate about fighting these disorders and supporting those struggling are coming together in various capacities such as research, advocacy, therapy, dietetics, and medical support.

If you are interested in joining the fight against eating disorders, it may seem daunting as to where to begin. After all, eating disorders are a specialized field which require thorough education and understanding to effectively treat.

Below are some helpful tips that can get you started on your path as an eating disorder specialist.

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How To Become An Eating Dietitian Fast

If helping people eat well is important to you, then you might be curious about how to become a dietitian. These professionals support peoples nutritional needs so that they can regain the strength they help to manage chronic conditions. Furthermore, they help to improve patients athletic performance.

The primary credential for clinical nutrition professionals is Registered Dietitians or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists . These two titles are interchangeable.

Becoming a Registered Dietitian is a process that has multiple steps that can take several years to accomplish. Below is a general overview of how to become a registered dietitian

  • Earn an accredited degree in the field
  • Complete supervised practice
  • Keep up with your credentials
  • Consider specialization

Bachelors In Counseling Or Psychology

An Eating Disorder Specialist Explains How Trauma Creates Food Disorders

To become a licensed eating disorder counselor, you first must earn a bachelors degree. Most students choose majors such as psychology, counseling, or social work for their undergraduate degree since each of these can provide the necessary knowledge for a career in counseling.

Most bachelors degree programs take about four years to complete and include introductory courses in algebra, English, and history. Degree-specific courses can focus on research methods, cognition, and counseling. Many bachelors degree programs also offer concentrations, such as Clinical Psychology, Human Performance Psychology, Counseling, or Rehabilitation.

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What Does An Eating Disorder Specialist Do

There are certain skills that many eating disorder specialists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, integrity and observational skills.

Sustain A Bigpicture Perspective Through Envisioning And Seeking A Complete Ed Recovery

ED therapists need to be myopic, even while functioning as visionaries. The seasoned ED practitioner integrates knowledge with instinct, intention with flexibility, and diversity within structure, holding onto the big picture of disease and recovery even while attending to the small details of behavioral change. With ED, small changes become the stuff of vast transformations. In validating the patient’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas, the therapist makes sense of them for the patient within the larger picture of the disorder, of the narrative of her life, and of her relationships with food, self, and loved ones.

As integrationists, ED therapists piece together submerged and disparate facets of the patient’s personality to foster the re-creation of the patient’s true and authentic integrated self. In uncovering, discovering, differentiating, then reintegrating all parts of the patient’s exiled self, disclosed and undisclosed, systematically and intentionally, the 1000 piece puzzle of the patient’s holistic self slowly reassembles itself into an integrative fabric through the recovery process. As integrationists, practitioners play diverse roles in the life of the ED patient, as teacher, mentor, cheerleader, confidant, case manager, and parent in supporting and containing the patient to her point of readiness for flight into recovery as an autonomous, independently functioning, selfpossessed, selfregulated, human being.

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What Is An Eating Disorder Specialist


There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being an eating disorder specialist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $27.84 an hour? That’s $57,909 a year! Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 14% and produce 26,100 job opportunities across the U.S.

Understanding The Role Of The Registered Dietitian

(1) Find your Freedom with Food

Registered dietitians play an important role in eating disorder treatment by assisting an individual through the process of normalizing a relationship with food, as well as supporting nutrition needs.

As part of a multi-disciplinary team, the RD engages in a therapeutic alliance with the client/patient in order to support behavioral changes, particularly when it comes to food and eating behaviors .

Typically, an individual who is struggling with an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, will have irrational thoughts and erratic behaviors about their body, food, and weight.

As part of the treatment process, the RD will work with a client to challenge and change these abnormal behaviors, encouraging a normalized relationship with food while meeting a clients individual needs.

The RD is also responsible for designing a meal plan that is conducive to meeting the needs of each individual, and this is true for the various levels of treatment available for eating disorders . Whether inpatient treatment or outpatient care, a person in recovery leans on the support of the dietitian to meet them where they are at when it comes to eating recommendations.

A meal plan is typically based on an assessment, which includes information about ones medical history, eating patterns, supplement use, exercise regimen, lab results, weight history and more .

This is all dependent on how the RD is functioning as part of a treatment team and in practice.

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Ed Require An Active Purposeful And On

ED offer little leeway for cursory assessment of both the disease and recovery status, throughout the course of treatment. An ongoing diagnostic assessment of recovery, which may be considered the flipside of an ongoing diagnostic assessment of pathology, enriches the treatment process, motivating new directions for growth and change. Assessment of recovery status might reveal a possible resurgence of resistance and regression, which could signify a worsening pathology. Recovery derailments can be gradual or sudden, temporary or enduring, minor or significant, at times warranting consideration of a higher level of care or tapping additional personal and professional resources for support, as needed. Effective ED treatment demands ongoing positive change in the form of recovery progress, both immediate and long term, behavioral and emotional, throughout the duration of care.

Education For Eating Disorder Nutritionists

As mentioned above, an eating disorder nutritionist may be a registered dietitian nutritionist or a licensed nutritionist. This means that you must have at least a bachelors degree in a foods and nutrition related field. Beyond that, however, you should have specialized education in eating disorders, their diagnosis and their treatment. Certification organizations for eating disorder nutritionists each have their own requirements for education and experience, and those will be discussed in more depth in the next section.

The following bachelors and Masters programs offer career-focused instruction delivered by trained nutritionists with experience in the field. Find out more what each individual course of study offers through the locations below.

Featured Nutritionist Programs

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Eating Disorder Specialist Degree Programs

Finding a quality eating disorder graduate program to set you on the path to becoming a licensed eating disorder specialist requires time and consideration. To become a licensed therapist, individuals most likely need to graduate from a program that has received CACREP accreditation.

Antioch University offers a masters degree program that is currently accredited by CACREP. Antioch offers an onlinemasters in mental health counselingthat can be completed by most students in about two years.

The Antioch program provides students with a high-quality curriculum that can prepare them for the licensure examination and to work with individual clients in the field. Graduates of bachelors programs related to psychology and mental health are encouraged to apply.

Bellevue University is another current provider of an online and accreditedmasters in mental health counselingdegree program. Students enrolled in this program can complete their degree in about two years through the online course room.

Since both of these programs are accredited, graduates can utilize their degrees during the licensure process. The curriculum in each program focuses on topics relevant to future therapeutic professionals in the field, such as trauma, crisis, and traumatic stress counseling treatment of child and adolescent disorders and advanced counseling skills, techniques, and practices.

Earn An Accredited Degree In The Field

Why Does My Eating Disorder Want to Impress My Therapist?

Currently, either a bachelors degree or a masters degree will qualify. Shortly, only people with graduate degrees will be able to become registered dietitians.

Whether your program is at the undergraduate level or the graduate level, it should be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics .

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Eating Disorder Specialist Certifications And Licensing

In addition to degree requirements, many states require licensing in order to practice as a clinical psychologist or counselor. Professional certifications can be beneficial for meeting the qualifications for this licensing as well as for further preparing and illustrating counseling skills specific to eating disorders. One certification that can be helpful is the Certified Addiction Specialist designation from the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders organization.

The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals also offers certification in order to help counseling professionals manage the care of patients with these disorders. IAEDP offers two certifications: the Certified Eating Disorders Specialist in Mental Health and the Certified Eating Disorders Specialist in Nutrition . Each certification requires specific education, experience, and successful completion of a testing examination in order to qualify for the designation.

The education, certifications, and licensing are in place to help eating disorder specialists manage the various issues of care associated with this particular treatment. Although there are several requirements to fulfill in becoming an eating disorder specialist, the ability to help individuals of all genders and ages cope with various types of eating disorders is gratifying and rewarding on both the personal and professional levels.

Other Essential Skills Required

  • Good listening skills- to enable one understand the problems of the patient.
  • Influential- to be able to challenge the patient to stop negative thinking.
  • Good speaking skills- ultimately it is the way these psychologists to convinces the patient that will stir a different perception of the situation by the latter.
  • Creative problem solving skills- it is the ability to propose new avenues of solving underlying problems that will spur success.
  • Patience- when working with these psychologically compromised people, one needs to have lots of patience to make any progress.

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What Qualifications Should I Look For In An Eating Disorder Therapist

There arent specific requirements therapists need to meet to call themselves an eating disorder therapist. However, if youre looking for a provider as a patient, there are a few things you can look out for.

Most graduate programs dont include extensive education on eating disorders, so to become an eating disorder therapist, practitioners must go through additional, eating disorder-specific training. The American Board of Clinical Social Work recommends a threefold approach to eating disorder training, involving didactic learning , supervised clinical practice and personal therapy.

Only a handful of universities offer eating disorder certificates for masters students , but other organizations have stepped up to fill in the educational gaps.

The Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia offers a two year post-graduate training program in the treatment of eating disorders. Doctors, dietitians and therapists can also take a course through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals to become an IAEDP-certified eating disorder specialist . Furthermore, the ANAD, NEDA, and the National Alliance for Eating Disorders all have helpful directories.

Kate Willsky is a writer, editor, and content strategist whose writing has appeared in publications including The Washington Post, VICE, SELF, Glamour, and Eater. Her website is

Dig Deeper

Any Ed Diagnosis Can Be Considered A Call To Action

ARFID Treatment in Dallas, TX

An ED waits for no one. Unless it is healing, the condition is progressing. The diagnosis of an ED is frequently elusive. Through a deep understanding of these diseases, seasoned therapists develop a capacity to anticipate or intuit their presence, a skill rooted in diagnostic acuity. Within the context of human connection, the astute therapist reads between the lines of the therapeutic moment, guiding an inquiry and early detection of physiological, developmental and emotional gaps in the patient’s psyche and body image.

E was a 29yearold woman who began treatment with me for depression and relationship problems. In response to her description of her college days where she spoke of herself as being perfectionistic, highly compulsive, and depressed, I chose to wonder aloud if she had ever struggled with an ED or other eating related issues. My God! she responded. How did you know? I have never told a soul! By understanding the emotional configuration of her personality, I was able to intuit and surmise the possible existence of a past or ongoing ED. In learning that my hunch had been correct, I better understood the breadth and depth of her treatment needs.

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National Alliance On Mental Illness

NAMI aims to offer education, support, and public awareness of mental health issues.

Some NAMI resources you may find useful are:

  • Helpline: The NAMI helpline provides information, support, and treatment referrals to those with mental health conditions. Its available Monday through Friday.
  • Support groups: NAMI offers support groups throughout the country for people with mental health conditions and their families.

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