National Eating Disorders Association

Eating Disorders TreatmentEating disorder treatment can be delivered in a variety of settings. Understanding the different levels of care and methodologies can be helpful when selecting a provider.  It’s also good to understand types of treatment because insurance benefits are tied both to diagnosis and the type of treatment setting.   


Levels of Care

The list below is ordered from least intensive to most intensive treatment levels.


  • Patient is medically stable and does not need daily medical monitoring
  • Patient is psychiatrically stable and has symptoms under sufficient control to be able to function in normal social, educational, or vocational situations and continue to make progress in recovery


Patient is medically stable but:

  • Eating disorder impairs functioning, though without immediate risk
  • Needs daily assessment of physiologic and mental status

Patient is psychiatrically stable but:

  • Unable to function in normal social, educational, or vocational situations
  • Engages in daily binge eating, purging, fasting or very limited food intake, or other pathogenic weight control techniques


  • Patient is medically stable and requires no intensive medical intervention
  • Patient is psychiatrically impaired and unable to respond to partial hospital or outpatient treatment


Patient is medically unstable as determined by:

  • Unstable or depressed vital signs
  • Laboratory findings presenting acute health risk
  • Complications due to coexisting medical problems such as diabetes

Patient is psychiatrically unstable as determined by:

  • Rapidly worsening symptoms
  • Suicidal and unable to contract for safety

For more details, see: APA Practice Guidelines for Eating Disorders, 3rd Edition