Navigating Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Patterns in Trauma Treatment


Embarking on the journey of understanding and addressing eating disorders (EDs) and disordered eating patterns (DEPs) within trauma treatment requires both humility and dedication. As trauma treatment professionals, we are tasked with recognizing the intricate interplay between trauma, mental health, and one’s relationship with food and body. In this blog post, I’ll share insights gleaned from personal experiences and professional growth, along with practical tools and resources to aid in the assessment and treatment of EDs and DEPs.

Reflecting on Past Learning:

My introduction to ED treatment occurred unexpectedly, prompting a deep dive into understanding these complex conditions. Reflecting on my journey, I couldn’t help but acknowledge missed opportunities in recognizing EDs and DEPs in past clients. Trauma and EDs often intertwine, acting as steadfast companions on one’s healing journey. Embracing humility, I’ve remained vigilant in expanding my knowledge, fostering connections with ED specialists, and enhancing my clinical skills to better serve clients.

Signs and Tools for Assessment:

Recognizing the signs of EDs and DEPs is paramount in facilitating early intervention and support. While weight loss, preoccupation with food, and body image concerns are commonly observed, it’s essential to approach assessment holistically. Incorporating eating, food, and body assessments into intake processes can provide valuable insights. Quick tools such as the SCOFF Questionnaire and Eating Disorder Screening for Primary Care offer efficient screening options, complemented by more comprehensive tools like the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) and Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) for in-depth assessment.

Navigating Treatment and Support:

Guiding clients through the complexities of EDs and DEPs requires a multi-dimensional approach rooted in trauma-informed care. Assessment during intake serves as a foundational step, allowing for ongoing exploration of eating patterns within the trauma healing process. Collaborating with Registered Dietitians (RDs) or Certified Eating Disorder Specialists (CEDS) can provide specialized support, complementing therapeutic interventions. Psychoeducation and gradual exploration of ED or DEP-specific work foster a safe and supportive environment for clients to engage in healing.

Maintaining Open Communication:

Establishing open communication with RDs or CEDS reinforces collaborative care, ensuring alignment in treatment goals and strategies. Regular check-ins facilitate shared insights and coordinated planning, promoting comprehensive client-centered care. Cultivating an environment free from shame or judgment allows clients to navigate their ED or DEP behaviors with honesty and transparency, fostering a space for healing and growth.

Embracing Cultural Sensitivity:

Recognizing the influence of culture on eating behaviors and body image is integral in providing inclusive and responsive care. Acknowledging disparities in research and representation, particularly among marginalized communities, underscores the importance of seeking culturally relevant resources and information. Organizations such as the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) and the National Association of Eating Disorders (NEDA) offer valuable resources and educational materials tailored to diverse populations.


Incorporating trauma-informed principles into the assessment and treatment of EDs and DEPs empowers trauma treatment professionals to navigate these complex conditions with compassion and efficacy. By fostering collaboration, embracing cultural sensitivity, and maintaining a steadfast commitment to ongoing learning, we can create healing spaces where clients feel seen, heard, and supported on their journey toward recovery. Let us continue to advocate for holistic care that honors the interconnectedness of trauma, mental health, and one’s relationship with food and body.

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