Helpline 0808 801 0677 Youthline 0808 801 0711

Eating disorders terms

Care types

AMHS – Adult Mental Health Services, which refers to any NHS services for people over the age of 18.

CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. These are the NHS services that work with anyone under the age of 18. Specialist CAHMS are NHS mental health services that focus on the needs of children.

Day patient care – If you’re admitted as a day patient, you’ll spend all or most of the day at the facility where you’re being treated, but won’t stay overnight.

Inpatient care – If you’re referred to a healthcare service as an inpatient, you’ll stay at the hospital or treatment facility on a more permanent basis, including overnight.

NHS – the National Health Service,the public healthcare system that provides the majority of treatment.

Outpatient care – If you’re referred to a healthcare service as an outpatient, you’ll attend appointments, but won’t stay overnight. This also differs from day patient care, as you won’t need to spend most all or most of the day at your treatment facility.

Private healthcare – if you’re not able to access the care you need on the NHS, or if you would just prefer it, you can access private healthcare, which you pay for. You can refer yourself to these services directly, without seeing your GP first, so we recommend that you ensure the private services are registered with an appropriate professional body.

Healthcare professionals

Approved mental health professional – This role relates to the Mental Health Act 1983. If someone needs compulsory treatment, they will be involved in that decision. They act in the best interests of the patient and ensure that they understand their rights and are treated with dignity.

Community Central Health Nurse/Community Psychiatric Nurse – A mental health nurse who may visit patients at home to support them as they go through treatment.

Dietician – A qualified health professional who can assess, diagnose and treat dietary problems. They are registered with a professional body, the Health and Care Professions Council.

Doctor/General Practitioner (GP) – Usually the first port of call when seeking treatment for an eating disorder. They can assess your physical and mental health, give a diagnosis, prescribe treatment, and refer you for specialist care.

General Practice nurse – General practice nurses work as part of the healthcare team at the GP’s surgery. They might do things like take blood samples and offer some health advice.

Nutritionist – Someone qualified to provide information about food and eating healthily, but not about specialist diets for medical conditions. You are advised to check that yours is a registered nutritionist at the Association for Nutrition.

Psychiatrist – A doctor who specialises in psychiatry, the field of medicine that involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions.

Psychologist – Someone trained in psychology, the study of how people think and behave. You might work with a clinical psychologist if you go through some form of therapy as part of your treatment. It’s advisable to check your psychologist is registered with the British Psychological Society.

Psychotherapist – Someone who is trained to deliver one or more types of therapy. You can see whether your psychotherapist is registered at the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.


CAT – Cognitive analytic therapy. This is a kind of therapy that can be recommended for the treatment of anorexia. It looks at past events that may explain the unhealthy thoughts that cause your anorexia, and helps you to recognise and find ways to break the unhealthy patterns.

CBT – Cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps you to deal with problems by breaking them down into smaller parts. It focuses on current problems and how to change negative thought patterns to develop healthy ways of coping with them. This therapy is often recommended as part of the treatment for all kinds of eating disorders. It can be adapted to the needs of people with particular illnesses, such as bulimia (CBT-BN) or binge eating disorder (CBT-BED).

Counselling – A type of talking therapy where you can talk about your thoughts and feelings, which aims to help you overcome emotional issues that you’re struggling with.

DBT – Dialectical behaviour therapy. This is a kind of therapy that focuses on your ability to control and regulate your emotional responses, and it can be adapted to help treat binge eating disorder.

Family interventions – Family interventions may be recommended for children and adolescents with eating disorders. This kind of therapy involves family members, acknowledging that the eating disorder can impact the people around the sufferer and helping them to better understand the illness.

FPT – Focal psychodynamic therapy. This is a form of therapy based on the idea that mental health conditions may relate to past unresolved conflicts. The therapy encourages people to think about early events that may have impacted their mental health and helps them find healthy ways to cope with negative feelings.

IPT – Interpersonal psychotherapy. This is a form of therapy that looks at the effect your relationship with others and with the outside world has on your mental health. It helps you to understand the feelings involved and develop healthy coping strategies. This can be part of the treatment for all kinds of eating disorders.

Issue date: January 2017

Review date: January 2020

Version 1.0
Sources used to create this information are available by contacting Beat on 0300 123 3355 or emailing We welcome your feedback on our information resources and whether you found them helpful. Email with your comments.