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I think I have an Eating Disorder; How do I get Help from an Eating Disorder Psychologist?

Updated: Apr 24


6 steps to take to seek help for an eating disorder in Australia from an eating disorder psychologist


Eating disorder psychologist Sydney

Eating disorders are serious, complicated mental illnesses which can affect individuals not just physically, but also psychologically, socially, biologically and environmentally. They can be stubborn and difficult to treat and require a health professional who is specialised in treating eating disorders, such as an eating disorder psychologist. Getting help as early as possible is essential, however knowing where to start can feel extremely daunting and overwhelming. Who do you tell, where do you go and what do you do? As an eating disorder psychologist in Sydney, I want to share with you steps you can take to seek therapy for eating disorders in Australia.

 

Step 1. Reach out to someone you trust


When you are struggling with an eating disorder, it can be a very lonely place to live. Not only that, eating disorders thrive on isolation and secrecy to survive. As a fully recovered eating disorder psychologist, I know first-hand the difficulty in trying to enter recovery alone. The very first step can be sharing your worries and concerns with a family member, friend or someone else you trust. If you are not sure who to talk to, have a think about the following questions:


1.     Is there anyone you have spoken to before about any issues, worries or your mental health?

2.     If there anyone who might have some understanding or experience of eating disorders or mental health issues?

3.     Is there anyone you have confided in before?


Alternatively, there are helplines available if you don’t quite feel ready to speak with someone you know and want to stay confidential:


1.     The Butterfly Foundation (support for those with eating disorders/body image)

1800 ED HOPE (Monday-Friday)



2.     Lifeline (24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services)


13 11 14

 

Step 2. Do your research around treatment options


There are many different eating disorder services and treatment options available because Eating Disorders can present at many different levels of intensity or severity. Depending on your individual circumstances and preferences you may require a certain level of care or a particular type of treatment to suit your needs. There is no one way to recover and no one-size fits all. Taking an active role in your own recovery and exploring what treatment options are available to you can be both empowering and anxiety reducing.



 

Step 3. Book a GP appointment


Your first point of contact in the healthcare system will most likely be your GP. They will be responsible for your initial diagnosis and help to coordinate your treatment in the early stages. They will also refer you to an eating disorder psychologist such as myself if they determine that you have an eating disorder. Please be aware that your GP may need a longer consultation with you, therefore when booking your appointment, you could mention that it is regarding mental health assessment.


Before your appointment you may find it helpful to think and write down any questions you want to ask, your symptoms and any behaviours you are worried about. During this appointment you may be asked about your eating habits, you may be weighed (you can ask to not be weighed or for them to not tell you the number) and have any physical health checks such as a blood test. This will help your GP complete their initial assessment and write a referral to see an eating disorder psychologist.

 

Step 4. Get an Eating Disorder Plan (EDP) from your GP


To see an eating disorder psychologist you will require something called an Eating Disorder Plan (EDP). This gives you access to 40 sessions with an eating disorder psychologist per calendar year and 20 sessions with a dietician, where you can receive a rebate from Medicare. Over the course of these sessions you will need additional visits to your GP after every 10 sessions and a psychiatrist when you have used 20 sessions.


Your GP will let you know if you are eligible for an EDP after their assessment. However, if your GP decides that you are not eligible you are still able to see an eating disorder psychologist through a different plan called a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) which offers 10 sessions a year with a psychologist and 5 sessions with a dietician.

 

Step 5. Book consultation with an eating disorder psychologist


Finding the right eating disorder psychologist is essential for your recovery. That is why ‘step 2. do you research’ is important so that you can explore the different eating disorder psychologists in Sydney or online. You may want to see a psychologist who has gone through specialist training in eating disorders such as an eating disorder psychologist as they, like myself, have addition knowledge and understanding of these disorders. The eating disorder psychologist must also offer one of the following treatments for you to use your EDP:


  • Family Based Treatment for eating disorders

  • Adolescent Focused Therapy for eating disorders

  • Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT-E)

  • CBT-Anorexia Nervosa (AN) (CBT-AN)

  • CBT-Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and binge-eating disorder (BED) (CBT-BN and CBT-BED)

  • Maudsley Model of anorexia treatment in adults (MANTRA)

  • Interpersonal Therapy for BN, BED

  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy for BN, BED

  • Focal psychodynamic therapy for eating disorders

 

Step 6. Make sure that your treatment continues


Using an EDP can be confusing, therefore it is important to understand these requirements ahead of your treatment to ensure that it goes smoothly. Thankfully your GP and eating disorder psychologist can also support you and answer any questions you have. Over the course of your EDP you are required to see your GP and also a psychiatrist who will review your care and progress:


·      After session 10 – visit your GP to renew your EDP (you will not be able to attend more than 10 sessions if you do not see your GP as this stage)

·      After session 20- you will require a review by a psychiatrist to assess your eligibility for the next 20 sessions

·      After session 30- visit your GP to renew your EDP for the last 10 sessions


The good news is that your EDP lasts 12 months and can be renewed for the next calendar year if you continue to be eligible.

 

If you are interested in taking that next step and are ready to speak with an eating disorder psychologist in Sydney please get in contact with Hannah Myall, who has also fully recovered from an eating disorder and has since spent the last decade helping individuals and families work towards eating disorder recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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