Providing care to clients with Eating Distress (ED) is a multifaceted endeavour. This includes attention to the physical, psychological, spiritual, environmental and social domains of health. Much has been written on the diverse range of treatment options, with supporting arguments and criticisms of each. However, there has been no consensus about the ‘best’ approach. This fuels the challenge, and possibly the sense of helplessness many practitioners experience when striving towards successful treatment. Working with clients with ED can be a highly rewarding, albeit challenging, experience. It is hoped that through the strategies suggested here, practitioners will feel comfortable and competent in providing care.
People with ED usually find it very difficult to acknowledge that they have a problem. Diagnosis can be difficult, since the symptoms of ED often occur in combination with other conditions and are very seldom clear. A multi-disciplinary approach is the most effective treatment route. This involves a through medical assessment, nutritional guidance and education, individual, group and family work, professional carework, and medical follow-up. Because ED has a profound negative impact on all family members, it is recommended that the whole family be part of this work. Caring practitioners and careworkers play an integral role in this process, not only in the development of treatment plans, but in their implementation. It is of paramount importance that people involved in this process have the knowledge and attitudes required for such client’s care.