Female athlete experiences of seeking and receiving treatment for an eating disorder

Clinical eating disorders are common among athletes; however research has yet to explore the process of seeking and receiving treatment for an eating disorder in this population. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen female athletes currently receiving treatment for an eating disorder. Three themes emerged: Challenges to treatment seeking; Feeling out of place and Coping with exercise transitions. Athletes reported low levels of eating disorder literacy and lacked motivation to engage with therapy due to a lack of perceived relevance. Athletes found it challenging to relinquish exercise behaviours in treatment and expressed concerns around managing a return to sport. It may be necessary to provide additional support to athletes when embarking on and leaving treatment programmes, particularly with regards to managing expectations about exercise.