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Eating disorders

Allied health

Therapeutic services involving education, assessment and treatment for physical and mental health delivered by dietitians, occupational therapists and exercise physiologists as part of a multidisciplinary care team

What is it?

Allied health services are provided by a range of qualified professionals with expertise in identifying, assessing and treating health concerns.

Allied health professionals such as dietitians, exercise physiologists and occupational therapists play a significant role in the treatment of an eating disorder. Their role is to support and improve your health and wellbeing through a range of interventions based on your individual needs.

What can someone expect?

Allied health professionals will form part of your multidisciplinary care team and can include dietitians, exercise physiologists or occupational therapists.

On your first visit, an allied health professional will often:

  • discuss the reason for your visit
  • ask questions about your medical, social, exercise and diet history to form a complete picture of your current health
  • undertake an assessment or take measurements (e.g. height, weight, waist circumference)—this information is important for some allied health professionals but others don’t need it
  • work with you to identify goals and strategies for improving your health and create an appropriate plan for treatment
  • refer you to additional health services if necessary
  • plan any follow-up appointments.

As you work towards recovery, the number of sessions you have with an allied health professional may reduce from regular appointments to review sessions.

You may be eligible for a rebate when accessing allied health services through Medicare if your GP develops an Eating Disorder Treatment and Management Plan (EDTMP). If you’re not eligible for an EDTMP, you might still access rebated services under other Medicare referrals, such as a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) or Chronic Disease Management (CDM) plan.

Sessions are limited so ensure you visit the GP at regular intervals and know how many rebated sessions you have allocated.

You must pay for Medicare-rebated allied health services upfront. The claim will be sent to Medicare (by you or the practitioner) so you can be reimbursed.

Some NDIS packages may also include funding for allied health services. Many private practice allied health professionals will also accept appointments without a referral (known as ‘self-referrals’) if you can pay the full cost of treatment.

Eating disorders are a specialised area of treatment. It can be helpful to check or ask whether your allied health practitioner has appropriate experience and training in this area, and if they are registered with the relevant professional body.


Dietitians can support you to change your relationship with food and your body through nutritional information, education and dietary advice. Dietitians can:

  • translate scientific information into practical advice on food and healthy eating
  • prescribe individualised dietary strategies specific to your nutritional needs
  • provide meal planning and guidance on buying and eating appropriate foods
  • help you establish eating patterns for recovery and wellbeing
  • address any physical health concerns related to an eating disorder via nutritional strategies (e.g. gastrointestinal concerns, menstrual dysfunction, dizziness, poor concentration or cardiovascular concerns)
  • identify any concerns that might indicate a medical admission.

It may be beneficial to find a dietitian with training and experience with eating disorders to ensure their values are aligned with a focus on recovery. For example, some dietitians are trained in a model called ‘Health At Every Size’, which doesn’t focus on weight loss or measurements but instead focuses on improving physical and overall health through food.

Exercise physiologist

An accredited exercise physiologist (AEP) can assist you to work towards your recovery goals by providing advice and support to engage in safe and effective physical activity, without encouraging or worsening disordered eating or behaviours. This might include exercise-based interventions, physical activity education and lifestyle modification.

It can be beneficial to see an AEP before engaging in exercise as dysfunctional exercise can be a common experience for people with eating disorders. Developing a healthy, enjoyable and sustainable relationship with movement under the guidance of an AEP can lead to positive outcomes and reduce the risk of future relapse.

Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists (OTs) offer a range of services aimed at helping a person to develop, recover or improve daily living skills and activities within their environment. OTs can provide support with:

  • developing skills such as food preparation and consumption
  • building tolerance to activities that may cause distress (e.g. cooking, shopping)
  • overcoming sensory aversions (e.g. food textures)
  • creative expression of thoughts and emotions
  • reconnecting people with themselves outside of the eating disorder (e.g. values, motivations, roles).

Who is this for?

Allied health services can be beneficial to you from when you are getting started on working towards your recovery from an eating disorder through to having recovered and maintaining your wellbeing.

Allied health services may be helpful if you want to develop an understanding of nutrition and movement, address existing unhelpful ‘food rules’ or dysfunctional exercise, or require expert guidance and support tailored for your situation.

How can someone access it?

Your doctor (e.g. GP, psychiatrist, paediatrician) will often provide a referral for you to access allied health services as part of a treatment plan they develop with you. Your doctor may recommend providers of allied health services that they know of, or they may allow you to find and select a provider yourself. Many private practising allied health professionals will also accept appointments without a referral.

There are several online service directories where you can search for health professionals who provide allied health services for people with an eating disorder:

Eating Disorders Queensland (EDQ) provides services delivered by dietitians specifically for people with an eating disorder and supported through either NDIS or Medicare:

  • contact EDQ’s Care Navigator for information on available services via email to or by calling 07 3844 6055
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