Public Healthcare Treatment through AHS
If you or your loved one is in MEDICAL DANGER, call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency department.
Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have life threatening consequences.
Alberta Health Services offers two eating disorder programs, which are free of charge– one in Edmonton, and one in Calgary. Both require a referral from a family doctor. To help facilitate effective communication with your family doctor, we recommend using our checklist to guide the conversation.
You can also search the Find a Physician site at the College of Family Physicians. You can filter by TOWN/CITY. The colours on the left side indicate if they are: accepting patients (Green), require referrals (Yellow) or aren’t accepting patients (Red). You can also search for General Practitioners through the Primary Care Network.
Anyone in Alberta with a health question or concern can call HealthLink at 811
Click the toggles below for more information about each program, and/or refer to the referral pathways document for more information about referring clients/the referral process.
University of Alberta Hospital Eating Disorder Program
In order to ensure that you are viewing the most current information regarding the programming at the University of Alberta Hospital, please see this referral pathways info sheet.
The University of Alberta Eating Disorder program treats many of the individuals they see as outpatients and day patients, in addition to the 12 patients who receive a hospital bed and are treated through the inpatient program. There is a misconception that you need to be critically ill to access treatment at the Eating Disorder Program. This is NOT true. Early intervention is preferred, especially for young people, as this has been shown to greatly improve outcomes.
NEDIC also has a page on the program which may be useful.
Offers services and support for people who have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, including:
- supervision during and after meals
- one-to-one and group therapy
- nursing and psychiatric care
- help with nutrition
- schooling for teen clients
- family support and therapy
This service helps people who are in the hospital, getting ready to leave the hospital, or living in the community. Clients in the hospital receive 24/7 care and clients living in the community can access treatment 24/7.
Service providers may include
Dietitians, psychiatrists, psychologists, registered nurses, social workers, recreational therapists
For people 13 years or older who have dangerous eating disorder symptoms and need a high level of treatment.
A referral is needed. Doctors and other professionals can fax referrals to 780-407-6672. Please provide as much information as possible regarding current medical/psychiatric status, height/weight, recent lab work, and severity of current symptoms. Referrals accepted from out of zone and province.
Calgary Eating Disorder Program
The Calgary Eating Disorder Program uses a multi-modal, interdisciplinary team approach to provide services across the continuum of care. We believe it is imperative to work collaboratively as a team and include the patient and family in this process. In this respect, we strive to have the patient and family in control of their own treatment and give choices and options, within the boundaries of responsible care. We utilize a bio-psycho-social approach to treatment including all necessary team members to meet the needs of the patient and family. Each patient will work with a multidisciplinary team that could include members of the program staff, other hospital staff and community resources as appropriate.
Service providers include: Dietitian, Dietary Technician, Evaluation Analyst, Family Counsellor, Occupational Therapist, Pediatrician, Physician, Psychiatrist, Registered Nurses.
We respect the vast difference between people and situations and work with each patient at their stage of change, responding to their evolving needs. We believe in continuous learning and striving to improve services through evaluation and research, as well as promoting ongoing learning and education around best practices in the field.
How to get more Information
Individuals who have questions regarding accessing services can speak with a Program Consultant at (403) 955-8700. The Program Consultant can provide consultation for individuals, families, educators and healthcare professionals on: eating disorder topics, available services, how to make a referral to the program, and general treatment recommendations.
Accessing the program
1) Physician referral required: Please fill out this Referral Form.
2) Comprehensive assessment is scheduled consisting of a meeting with various members of the multi-disciplinary team. At the end of the assessment process, feedback and treatment recommendations are provided to the patient and their family.
The Eating Disorder Program is one program that is located at three different sites within the Calgary zone: Foothills Medical Centre (inpatient treatment services), Alberta Children’s Hospital (day treatment and some outpatient services), Richmond Road Diagnostic & Treatment Centre (outpatient services). The program provides treatment services to patients of all ages. Please visit the links below for more details.
Private Healthcare Providers and Services
Many services are offered by privately-funded care providers, such as psychologists and dietitians who specialise in eating disorders.
For a comprehensive list, please refer to the appropriate region you are seeking care within. If you know of other specialists offering support for the treatment of eating disorders, please let us know.
Please note: Be sure to ask specific questions about their expertise in eating disorders- knowledge may vary by professional even if they note that they work with eating disorders/disordered eating.
Theravive is a website that helps people find therapists. Each therapist writes a short bio, listing the areas they treat. You can see who offers eating disorder therapy in Alberta, and search by city/town.
Please note: Be sure to ask specific questions about their expertise in eating disorders and whether they follow best practices as therapy approaches made widely vary.
Approaches to Treatment of Eating Disorders
A team approach seems to work best for the treatment of eating disorders. It is recommended that you work with your family doctor to create a cohesive treatment team. You may find this guide helpful to work with your family doctor. Private psychologists, counselors, dietitians and others may list eating disorders as one of the areas they provide service. Fees will apply with private practitioners, but some may offer a sliding scale.
There are many different approaches to treating eating disorders. Research supports that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is effective to treat bulimia and binge eating disorder. Family Based Therapy (FBT) is the preferred method to treat eating disorders in youth and children. It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of anorexia, regardless of the age of the patient.
Understanding the options can help you find the right therapist and start the conversation in the right place. Click on the following links to learn more.