Our eating disorders service is a specialist service offering a community based treatment for adults with a clinical diagnosis of an eating disorder.
An eating disorder is a mental health illness associated with a high mortality rate. It can affect anyone at any age and is often more about feelings and emotions than about food.
We cover the whole of Cornwall and our small therapy team consists of psychologists, dietitians, an occupational therapist and administrators.
Our team works with clients and other organisations, including the integrated community mental health teams, GPs, the children and adolescence mental health service (CAMHS) for those transitioning from children’s to adult services and hospital services.
People who need to be treated in hospital will be referred to an inpatient unit. There are a number across the country. Our closest is the Haldon Unit in Exeter. At times, we also use the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
All initial referrals to our service need to go via a GP to the integrated community mental health teams. The GP can make a referral by calling 0845 207 7711.
Once a referral is made, you will meet with a mental health professional from within this team. This person will review your mental health and social care needs before discussing treatment options. If an eating disorder is thought likely, a referral will be made to us and an eating disorders assessment will likely be offered with one of our team. The assessment lasts for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. We hold 2 assessment clinics a month.
If after the assessment it is felt that treatment from our service may be useful to you, we will usually offer you an extended assessment. These are 6 sessions, lasting around an hour, with a clinician and give you an opportunity to talk about your eating disorder symptoms and to start making small changes if you feel able. It also allows some space for you to discuss the impact the eating disorder may be having on the rest of your life.
After the extended assessment, we will be in a better position to direct you into the most appropriate course of treatment. Either within our service or within other NHS services as appropriate.
There are a number of treatment options available within our service. These are either combined group sessions or single one to one sessions or a mixture of both. Depending on the outcome of your assessment the treatment options may be:
The first treatment session you will probably be invited to is our food choices group. This is an opportunity for people with eating disorders to explore information about food, nutrition and other topics related to weight control with a dietitian in a group setting.
If you are not able to attend the group the information can be accessed by watching our food choices videos. However, we have found that attending the group in person is more beneficial.
If you are underweight or have other physical health issues alongside your eating disorder, the dietitians will offer a dietetic assessment to determine the nutritional adequacy of your diet and offer guidance as required.
The dietitians also offer an agreed number of individual appointments to people who:
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a supported self-help group which involves exploring the psychological and physiological reasons for eating disorders, the factors that maintain binge-eating, vomiting and/or laxative use and restricted eating, regular balanced eating, problem-solving and the role of body image. This is a 2-hour session run over 7 sessions and weeks.
Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) brings together understandings from cognitive psychotherapies (such as CBT) and from psychoanalytic approaches into one integrated, user friendly and effective therapy. CAT is a collaborative programme of looking at the way you think, feel and act and is tailored to meet your individual needs.
The intensive support programme (ISP) is a developing programme aimed at keeping people out of hospital and out of county placements. It is currently provided as 1 full day weekly intervention, with supported eating being an essential component. ISP is usually run in 6 week blocks with short breaks in between each block.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a participative style group for people with or in recovery from anorexia nervosa who have learnt DBT skills in an inpatient unit or in individual therapy in the eating disorders service.
The group follows the DBT format including mindfulness practice, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, radical openness and working on learning and generalising new skills in and out of session. This is a 1 hour and 30-minute session which runs on a regular weekly basis.
Family therapy is therapy which involves the client who has an eating disorder and their family. It is aimed at helping and supporting the family. This is usually a 1 hour and 30 minutes and can be a one off session or a series of sessions over a period of time.
The occupational therapist uses specialist assessment to identify how an eating disorder is affecting an individual’s occupational performance.
Eating disorders can affect all areas of occupational functioning, such as:
During occupational therapy, you will identify areas of your life that you wish to make changes in and work collaboratively with the occupational therapist to achieve these goals.
Occupational therapy can be provided on either a one to one basis or as part of a group.
We also offer a wide range of individual therapeutic treatments which are delivered by counselling psychologists, clinical psychologists and occupational therapist. This can range from a few sessions to regular weekly sessions over an extended amount of time. Individual therapy can consist of different therapeutic tools and techniques.
All our treatment pathways are based on the assessment outcome and discussions with the individual involved to make sure their needs are taken into account.
The eating disorders service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays). An answerphone may sometimes be on during these times, but it is checked regularly throughout the day, so we will call you back as soon as possible.
If you need urgent help outside these hours, please call the out of hours mental health services on 0800 001 4330.
If you are in crisis, visit our mental health crisis webpage.
We recommend the following websites to support people with an eating disorder and their families.