Treatment Options

Treatment Options

How are eating disorders treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating eating disorders, but we know that early detection and treatment can ultimately lead to higher rates of recovery. It takes time, rigorous treatment programs, ongoing support and unconditional love – but recovery is possible, and individuals can go on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.  Most treatment programs include a combination of psychological therapy (psychotherapy), nutrition education, medical monitoring and sometimes medication.

A priority in the early phase of treatment is to establish some degree of normalcy with eating and weight. Restoration of weight is especially crucial with children and adolescents, whose growth and development could be stunted or compromised. Equally important is addressing underlying psychological issues as part of the treatment process.

A wide range of therapies can be used to
help an individual on the road to recovery.
These include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

CBT is based on the assumption that thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interconnected and can be restructured to support new, healthier thoughts and actions.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) 

DBT is based on the assumption that self-destructive behaviours are caused by the inability to manage and regulate intense emotion. DBT combines cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies. 

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)

In EFT, individuals learn how to manage their maladaptive emotions, as opposed to controlling what they eat as an outlet for the emotions.

Family-Based Treatment (FBT) or the Maudsley Model

In FBT, parents of children and younger teens are empowered to take responsibility for managing their child’s eating disorder symptoms, with the goal of restoring their child’s health.

Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT)

In EFFT, emotion coaching is integrated into a Maudsley model. A parent or caregiver helps their child to identify and process emotions that come up in the process of eating disorder recovery, allowing the young person to feel the compassion and understanding of their parent. The parent also learns to recognize when their own actions are being controlled by maladaptive emotions. New and healthier choices and directions can then be taken.

Peer Support Groups

Group members are all going through similar struggles and come together to support and empower each other.

Stepped Care Model

What is Stepped Care?

Stepped care is an evidence-based, staged system involving a series of interventions, from the least to the most intensive, that can be matched to a person’s needs. This model of care allows people to ‘step up’ or ‘step down’ the intensity of treatment based on people’s needs and preferences.

A general guideline in eating disorder treatment is that the right level of care for a person is the one at which they can stop the eating disorder behaviors for a sustainable period of time. Requiring more support is not negative, it simply means that is the stage where one is at in their recovery.  The stepped care journey below shows an overview of typical care pathways for eating disorder recovery.

Ontario Service Providers by Step

This information was collected by Body Brave via NEDIC’s Find a Provider Tool, for the purpose of separating supports into stepped care sections. This list is not exhaustive and may be subject to change. Please note that many of the hospital-based programs listed below only serve residents of a specific region of Ontario (their “catchment areas”).  For more information about NEDIC, go to

Note: Providers noted with an (~) consider themselves ‘Inclusive and affirmative of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people’ and ‘Inclusive and affirmative of trans*, Two-Spirit and non-binary people’ within NEDIC’s Find A Provider Tool filters.

Intensive Inpatient  Programming 

Residential Programming 

*limited OHIP coverage

 Day Hospitalization 

Hospital-Based Intensive Outpatient Programming

Hospital-Based Outpatient Programming

Community-Based Group Programming 

*including Peer Support

Self-Guided Support 

Information and Resources

Community-Based Individual Programming 

Many thanks to Body Brave for allowing us to use this content about Stepped Care.  For more information about Body Brave, go to