Eating disorder treatment center in Virginia

At HCA Virginia's network of hospitals, you have complete access to behavioral health resources. This includes Reflections Eating Disorder Treatment Center—Northern Virginia, which offers specialized care for patients with eating disorders. Here, you benefit from our multimodal treatment approach with a major emphasis on group therapy. We also offer levels of care for eating disorder treatment, including inpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient programs.

For more information about our primary care services or for help finding a doctor, call our free, 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse line.

Individualized care for all types of eating disorders

Eating disorders are treatable medical illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric conditions, such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders may also suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

For this reason, treating these disorders requires specialized, multi-disciplinary care—which we offer to our patients via personalized attention in a comfortable setting. We pair this with a rewards-based approach to promote healing and recovery. Patients have continuous contact with all members of our team so we can get to know each other and develop your customized treatment plan.

Learn more in our patient handbook

Our treatment approach

We use a multimodal treatment approach for eating disorders, with a major focus on individual, group and family therapy. Some of the methods we employ include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy—As one of the most effective treatment approaches for eating disorders, we use this therapy to work with patients to change their thoughts of themselves and food.
  • Exposure therapy—Participants in our partial hospitalization program have the opportunity to participate in "real world" activities. With the support of members of our team, patients go to restaurants, practice grocery shopping and take part in our unique clothing shopping exposure experience.
  • Expressive (alternative) therapy—We offer many types of expressive therapy, such as dance/movement, art, poetry, creative writing, drama and play. These create awareness of self and others while building coping skills.
  • Medical care (internal medicine)—Upon entering our center, you will have a complete physical exam. Many patients with eating disorders have a variety of medical needs. Our internist will ensure that appropriate referrals are made if a specialist is required.
  • Nutritional support—Nutrition groups include education on various nutrients and why the body needs them. The groups focus on challenging negative thoughts about food and provide education on meal planning at home. We also include discussions of nutrition-related challenges and possible solutions.
  • Psychiatric treatment—All program participants are assigned a physician upon admittance to the program. Your physician will meet with you several times a week. They may also speak to you about how medication may help you in your recovery process.

Types of eating disorders

When a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, it is considered an eating disorder. This may appear as an extreme reduction of food intake, extreme overeating or extreme feelings of distress about body weight or shape.

Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but sometimes they can develop during childhood or later in adulthood. Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Males who do have eating disorders are more likely to have a binge-eating disorder.

There are several types of eating disorders, including:

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a relentless pursuit of thinness and an unwillingness to maintain a healthy body weight. Those with the disorder have a distortion of body image, often seeing themselves as overweight, even if starved.

Signs and symptoms

People with anorexia often have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. They use an obsessive control of their own diet and weight as a method of controlling their surroundings and their emotions.

Some signs of anorexia include:

  • Absent or irregular menstrual periods
  • Body weight less than 85 percent of a healthy weight (equivalent to a BMI of less than 17.5)
  • Bradycardia (a heart arrhythmia in which the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute)
  • Brittle hair or nails or hair loss
  • Compulsive or excessive exercise
  • Distorted body image
  • Dizziness or fainting after standing
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Lanugo (a fine growth of hair on the face/chest)
  • Unusual eating behaviors, such as substituting eating with chewing gum
  • Yellow skin color

These attitudes, symptoms and behaviors may be seen with or without purging, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse or diuretic abuse.

Anorexia treatments

Reasons for inpatient hospitalization for anorexia may include:

  • Active refusal to eat
  • Multiple medical and behavioral concerns
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Requiring supervised meals and nutritional planning
  • Significant impact on daily living

Reasons for partial hospitalization for anorexia may include:

  • Medical and behavioral concerns
  • Needing a structured treatment plan in order to progress
  • Preoccupation with food and weight
  • Requiring supervised meals but not acute medical care

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder. It is characterized by frequent, "out-of-control" episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by compensating behaviors, such as purging, fasting or excessive exercise.

As with anorexia, those with bulimia may have a distortion of body image or fear of weight gain. People with bulimia often have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, and use binge and purge behaviors as a way to cope with these issues.

Signs and symptoms

  • Compulsive or excessive exercise
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Decreased ability to focus/concentrate
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Mouth, teeth, gum and throat problems (such as cavities, ulcers and disease)
  • Obsession with food, activities and information related to food (grocery shopping, baking, cookbooks and magazines)
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Secretive behavior around food and eating
  • Self-induced vomiting and laxative, diuretic or diet pill use
  • Skipping some meals and overeating at others

Treatment for bulimia

Reasons for inpatient hospitalization for bulimia may include:

  • Active daily purging
  • Excessive exercise that is uncontrollable
  • Multiple medical and behavioral concerns
  • Needs meal and bathroom monitoring
  • Significant impact on daily living

Reasons for partial hospitalization for bulimia may include:

  • Active purging
  • Distorted body image
  • Medical and behavioral concerns

Eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)

In addition to the two main types of eating disorders—anorexia and bulimia—there is also EDNOS, which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. For example, binge-eating disorder is one type of EDNOS.

Eating disorder treatments

We offer patients various treatment levels depending on physician recommendation. Our comprehensive approach sees patients through inpatient care, partial hospitalization (day program) and outpatient care.

Inpatient care

In our inpatient program, we guide patients through the recovery process. Patients will work with a specialized team and an individualized treatment plan. Meal planning and dietetic support is provided, ensuring patients have a plan that includes three meals and three snacks each day—with each meal concluding in a support group.

Each day of inpatient care, patients participate in a range of therapeutic activities specifically geared toward their individual treatment plans. These include psychotherapy groups, nutritional groups, expressive therapy, meal planning and psycho-education.

Patients meet individually with their therapists at least twice weekly and will also participate in weekly family sessions. On weekends there is additional time set aside for patients’ families to participate in the program.

Partial hospitalization (day) program (PHP)

Like our inpatient program, the PHP is designed to guide patients through the recovery process. It helps patients who need more than an outpatient setting, providing care for those who are able to spend the night in their own home but need a more structured program during the day.

The PHP is available up to 11 hours per day, seven days per week. The program is an easy step down from our inpatient program, and we do our best to make this a smooth transition between levels of care.

Intensive outpatient program (IOP)

The IOP is designed to allow participants the freedom to customize a care plan that accommodates their regular activities, such as work and school. The program is flexible, with patients typically participating in our IOP anywhere from three to seven days a week. The schedule is based around meal times in order to accommodate a patient’s clinical and personal needs.

Access to outpatient care

Reflections has an extensive outpatient referral network, which includes psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists and registered dietitians. We use this network as a way to provide continuing support to patients who have completed inpatient or partial hospitalization. We also offer outpatient access for patients who may not be candidates for partial hospitalization or inpatient care.

We are here to provide hope and healing to those with eating disorders. To refer a patient or learn more about our program, please contact the Reflections intake coordinator at (703) 538-2886.

Support groups for eating disorders

The purpose of our Eating Disorders Support Group is to provide a supportive peer environment for people struggling with eating disorders.

The group meets Wednesdays from 7:00pm to 8:30pm in South Conference Room 2 on the second floor of Dominion Hospital at:

2960 Sleepy Hollow Rd.
Falls Church, VA 22044

To learn more about our support group, call (703) 538-2886.

Patients and visitors

A patient is not expected to overcome their eating disorder alone. In fact, the entire family plays a crucial role in the clinical treatment process, especially for adolescent patients. We strongly encourage family participation in group therapy and the nutritional education process. We also encourage family members to visit during designated visiting hours. Together, we can help our patients, your family, heal and thrive.