7 Things You Should Consider Before Joining An Online Eating Disorder Support Group

Dr Elayne Daniels
5 min readJan 31, 2023

If you’re thinking about joining an online eating disorder support group, there are things to consider in advance. The decision to join a support group can be daunting and empowering at the same time. Thinking it through and evaluating the pro’s and con’s is important.

The main purpose of any support group is to provide a time and place for people to share personal experiences, feelings, and coping strategies.

Being a part of a community who understands eating disorders can be wonderfully validating and comforting. To be in the presence of others who talk about their challenges can feel like a breath of fresh air. Especially because mental health challenges can be isolating.

In an online support group, you’re likely to understand one another. And, at the same time, recognize that not everyone is exactly the same. The main focus? Sharing experiences without discussing the “war stories”. Romanticized versions of your story or one upmanship are not helpful to anyone.

Support groups aren’t therapy sessions. Researchers say treatment led by trained experts is more effective than support groups. Especially when it comes to encouraging changed eating behaviors.

But online support groups have a unique role for most people with eating disorders.

As you recover, you may benefit from being a mentor to others with eating disorders. Sharing your knowledge and offering help can be an important part of your own recovery.

Consider these 7 things before joining an online eating disorder support group:

  1. Purpose: Understand the purpose of the group. Is it oriented toward support? Encouragement? Is it focused on providing specific information and resources? A support group is very different from group therapy.
  2. Leadership: Check if the group is led by a professional. What are the leader’s qualifications and experience in treating eating disorders?
  3. Confidentiality: How are your and other members’ privacy and confidentiality protected?
  4. Content: What are the parameters of content shared in the group? How…