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Eating disorders: Treatment overview

Treatment principles

Establish your role

Establish your role and responsibility for physical health, as well as your relationship to other people who may be involved in your patient's care.

Cultivate trust

Developing a trusting relationship is particularly important in treating patients with eating disorders. You are asking someone to relinquish behaviours that, despite being maladaptive overall, serve some useful purpose. You are asking patients who may feel that much of their life is out of control to give up control over their weight and their eating behaviour. You need to earn their trust.


Even though formal eating disorders services are scarce and have long waiting lists, you may need to enlist the help of a nutritionist or dietitian to assist with meal planning, a counsellor or therapist to provide support and psychotherapy, and a consulting psychiatrist. If the family is involved, they should also be seen as collaborators with tremendous expertise in the life journey of the patient.

Psychiatry in primary care toolkit

A powerful mobile app packed with features that will streamline screening and assessment in primary care.

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Frequently asked questions