Questions to Ask Treatment Providers

Reviewed by Paula Edwards-Gayfield, MA, LCMHCS, LPC, NCC, CEDS-C

It is important that people with eating disorders seek professional help. There are many differing approaches to treatment and no one-size-fits-all approach. Since there isn’t a single approach that is considered superior for everyone, it is important to find the option that works for you. Coming prepared with a list of questions to ask a potential provider can help you make that choice.

Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Treatment Provider

  • What is your experience and how long have you been treating eating disorders?
  • What type of license do you have? What are your training credentials? Do you belong to any professional eating disorder organizations?
  • How would you describe your treatment style? What psychotherapeutic approaches and tools do you use?
  • What is your appointment availability? Do you offer evening or early morning appointments? How long does each counseling session last? How many will there be and how often? When is payment due?
  • Do you stay up to date on the latest research and treatment recommendations for eating disorders?
  • Do you treat co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety?
  • Do you require ongoing medical information (labs, PCP visit, EKG, etc.)? Will a medical evaluation be needed before treatment begins?
  • What are the measurable criteria you use to assess how well treatment is working? Can you give me a few examples? Do you or your facility have a quality improvement program in place, or regularly assess the outcome of the treatment provided?
  • How will you work with other treatment providers, such as medical doctors, who may need to provide care?
  • Will you work with my workplace/school? How often do you communicate with them?
  • Do you work with a psychiatric provider if medication seems indicated or do I find one on my own?
  • Which, if any, insurance plans do you participate in? Will you bill my carrier directly (if your visits are covered)? Do you deal directly with the insurer or do I need to do that?
  • What is your fee structure if I don’t have insurance coverage, or should I lose it during treatment? Do you have a sliding scale fee?
  • How do you involve family members or friends?
  • Approximately how long will the treatment process take? When will we know it’s time to stop treatment?
  • What is your availability in an emergency? If you are not available, what are my alternatives?

Helpful Questions for the Treatment Process

Once you have chosen a treatment provider, here are some helpful questions you might want to consider asking as the treatment process develops. Remember that at any time during treatment, you can raise questions and consult your treatment provider regarding areas of concern.

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • How often do we discuss my treatment plan?
  • Will you or someone else conduct the treatment? If it will be someone else, does that person work for you or would this be a referral?
  • Will you supervise the treatment?
  • Which other professionals will you be collaborating with during the treatment? Would one of the professionals be considered the team leader? How is that determined?
  • Is a physician an integral part of the team?
  • What are the alternative or adjunct treatments?
  • What are the benefits and the risks associated with the recommended treatment? With alternative treatments?
  • Are there any physical complications of the eating disorder that need to be treated?
  • Are there any associated psychiatric disorders that will need to be treated?
  • What role will family members or friends play in the treatment process?

Questions to Help Families/Support Persons Stay Involved

Support from families and other support persons is a crucial part of the treatment process. Below are some questions you can ask the treatment provider to assist you in providing the best support possible for your loved one. Remember you may need to be proactive to help ensure the communication process flows smoothly. And don’t forget to find support for yourself! As a parent, family member, or friend it is easy to overlook the self-care you need while you are focused on your loved one’s recovery.

  • How can I help to support my loved one during treatment? What is my role within the treatment?
  • What are common eating disorder behaviors that I should be aware of and when should I be concerned?
  • How often will you talk to me about my loved one’s progress?
  • What if my loved one doesn’t want to participate in therapy?
  • How will the family/support persons be prepared for the patient to return home (if in a treatment center)?
  • What books, websites, or other sources of information would you recommend?
  • Do you provide services for family or support persons?
  • How much weight gain should be expected in what time period if my loved one needs to restore weight? What can I do to support my loved one during a time of weight gain?
  • Is it my responsibility to monitor feeding and/or weight? What procedures should we follow?
  • How do family members/supports determine if bingeing and/or purging behaviors are occurring in the home setting? What action should we take if we notice this behavior?
  • If my loved one is being treated by an outpatient team, how will the team decide if more intensive intervention is needed?
  • How and how often will the team members (ex. therapists, physicians, nutritionists, etc.) communicate with each other?
  • If I become anxious about my loved one or if problems arise, who should I call?