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Role of a GP

The general practitioner (GP) is usually the first point of call when an eating disorder is suspected.

Your GP should be able to asses and evaluate the individual through a series of physical tests and by referring to standardized assessments they should be able to confirm the presence of an eating disorder.

From this point an appointment will be made to refer the indivdual to the most appropriate service. This would usually involve the GP making an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist and or your local community mental health service. In some cases this may involve an emergency admission directly to an inpatient specialist service. However this is usually the last port of call.

To see specialist services in your area click here

It is worth mentioning that there can be a long delay between first point of contact and provision of a service, this is by no means under the control of your GP however the best advice for carers and parents is to be persistent

Help and Treatment

There are a variety of ways either you, or someone you care about, can gain support and different types of treatment.  This can vary from accessing online support, telephone help lines, self help books, peer support groups run by voluntary agencies and charities (listed in our self-help section), and traditional healthcare services which can be accessed via your GP.

The type of healthcare professional or service you are referred to by your GP may vary.  You may see a variety of specialist professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, dieticians, nutritionists, and counsellors.  The context in which this treatment is provided may also vary e.g. inpatient, day services, intensive outreach service etc., although the vast majority of treatment will be provided in an outpatient basis where you are asked to attend a clinic appointment in your local area.

The type of treatment or intervention you receive may vary, however we do have some professional guidelines which guide us in the psychological interventions we provide for people with an eating disorder called NICE guidelines ( or the Scottish Psychological Therapies Matrix (

The following is a list of psychological interventions which are recommended by the guidelines to treat eating disorders.  Please note there are many other different types of therapy which have not been listed here

  • Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT): an individual, time limited therapy that looks at the way a person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these reactions (often from childhood or earlier in life)
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): individual that or group therapy looks at how we think about a situation and how this affects our emotions and the way we act.
  • Family Interventions: These include a variety of structured interventions involving the whole family in helping to treat an eating disorder including Family Based Treatment (FBT) also known as the “Maudsley Model”.  For more info: (
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT): an individual, structured intervention that looks at how relationships can impact on eating disorder symptoms
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) a structured individual therapy which aims to help individuals resolve their ambivalence about making changes.

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