Eating Disorders Treatment May Stay Online Even After Pandemic


One of the only downsides to online treatment was that patients could more easily adopt their eating disorder behaviors, Kalotihos said.

“If we were in person, ideally this wouldn’t have happened because we would all be together,” Kalotihos said. “But we’ll never know, because that’s not the reality we had back then.”

Concerns that online treatment wouldn’t be enough for some of her patients led Marissa Sappho, LCSW, founder of Aurora Center NYC, to start meeting patients face-to-face in July 2020 – long before others. mental health practitioners.

“I have seen my patients struggle tremendously and in pain, isolation, fear and terror, decompensating into their eating disorder. And doing all of this in the context of a pandemic, it was absolutely terrifying, ”Sappho said.

Sappho felt she could better support patients in person so they can focus only on treatment. Online sessions place an additional burden on patients as they become responsible for maintaining a safe, quiet and private treatment space – something providers would take care of in person, she said. The rest of his staff returned fully in person in May. The Aurora Center now operates on a hybrid model, with 40% of patients entering the practice.

BALANCE – where Kalotihos received treatment – is resuming treatment in person, but slowly rolling it out via a hybrid online and in-person model. BALANCE Founder and CEO Melainie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD-S, said patients “already soak up the camaraderie” of being in the same room.

“There is nothing that replaces this,” Rogers said. “Being in a room with other people who have it so that you don’t feel so isolated and alone with this disease has been so cathartic and therapeutic.”

Some patients still find in-person treatment options to be crucial, even outside of a group treatment setting. A 26-year-old Columbia University graduate student said seeing a vendor face-to-face gives her a safe space outside her home, where her binge eating disorder affects her. more. The student, who asked not to be named, said there are measures that could make in-person treatment safer, especially as much of the city has already reverted to hybrid activities or fully in person.

“Part of the care you’re supposed to give people is seeing them in person,” she said.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, NEDAThe free, confidential helpline at (800-931-2237) is here to help: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. NEDA helpline volunteers offer basic support and information, locate treatment options in your area and can help you find answers to all of your questions.

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