Essentials for Best Practice: Treatment Approaches for Athletes With Eating Disorders

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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  • 1 Northwestern University
  • 2 The Victory Program at McCallum Place
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Eating disorders (EDs) and disordered-eating behaviors (DEBs), pose a high risk of morbidity and mortality, threatening physical health, emotional health, and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, among athletes, prevalence rates continue to increase. This document summarizes the challenges of establishing and navigating the multidisciplinary care needed to effectively treat EDs and DEBs among athletes. The benefits of timely and frequent communication within the multidisciplinary treatment team (MDTT) are emphasized and discussed. Authors advise who should be selected as members of the MDTT and suggest that all personnel, including athletic coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and certified fitness professionals be ED-informed and ED-sensitive. Vital components of care are noted including use of a variety of evidence-based psychotherapeutic modalities, interventions which target emotional regulation, and prioritize values based compassionate care. Authors caution that performance decrements and medical/physiological changes are not always easily observable in individuals with EDs and DEBs and therefore, attuned, consistent, and ongoing monitoring is needed. Consensus regarding previously established parameters for return to play and careful titration of physical activity throughout the ED recovery process are suggested as important for preserving health, preventing re-injury, or relapse and facilitating successful return to sport participation.

Conviser is with Ascend Consultation in Health Care, LLC, Chicago, IL; and Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Schlitzer Tierney and Nickols are with The Victory Program at McCallum Place, St. Louis, MO.

Address author correspondence to Jenny H. Conviser at Jenny.Conviser@ASCENDchc.com.
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