Athlete EDGE at EDCare offers comprehensive care for athletes with eating disorders. Call (866) 771-0861 to learn how we can help you.

Athlete EDGE at EDCare is a highly structured and specialized addition to our Partial Hospitalization Program in Denver, Colorado. This unique eating disorder treatment program is specifically designed for high-performance athletes. Upon admission, athletes will gain access to our team of experts who specialize in working with athletes to address mental health, physical health, dietetics, and performance.

Our goals are focused on interrupting the eating disorder and empowering athletes to return to their sport or performance stronger, both mentally and physically. Our interdisciplinary team works closely with the athlete’s family and “sport family” in order to keep them connected to their sport/team while working to address their personal struggles. We understand the commitment it takes to succeed as an athlete and recognize the fear involved in taking a break from sport in order to address the eating disorder. We strive to make this transition as smooth as possible and help the athlete gain needed skills and tools to recover from the eating disorder while strengthening their ability to return to sport and life elevated.

This sport and performance program follows our CAMSA® treatment model and focuses on healing the whole athlete – mind, body and spirit. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping individuals interrupt the eating disorder and integrate recovery-focused skills into BOTH their athletic and daily lives. Importantly, discussions surrounding the impact of continued participation in sport or performance on the athlete’s health is an integral part of our treatment philosophy.

Meet the Athlete EDGE at EDCare Team

NATASHA TRUJILLO, PHD, LP

Primary Therapist & Head of Athlete Program

AMY LAURENT, MD

Attending Psychiatrist

ALLIE DON SING, MA, LPC

Mental Performance Coach

BRANDON KRESS, CSCS

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Signs to Look for:

· Decrease in physical and/or  psychological performance

· Change in weight or body shape

· Changes or isolation around mealtime

· Shifts in mood or irritability

· Conflict with teammates and coaches

· Change in behavior around teammates and coaches

· Inability to concentrate during performance or practice

· Peer reports of concern to coach

· Amenorrhea

· Chronic or overuse injuries

· Obsession, rituals, or rigidity around food or exercise

· Training beyond prescribed routine

· Training when injured or tired

· Obsessing about training details or feeling distressed when training routine is interrupted

In addition to all of the services of our Partial Hospitalization Program, Athlete EDGE at EDCare includes:

We know how important training is in elite athletics and consider it an integral part of our treatment program. Training is supported by our medical staff, our strength and conditioning coach, and our sport psychology team. Upon receiving medical clearance, each individual athlete works with our consultants in sports and fitness.

Patients receive a variety of sport and performance psychology services. Patients meet with their individual counseling and sport psychologist twice a week and attend weekly athlete-centered groups. Our sport and performance psychology consultants also work with patients in the gym to help them integrate recovery-focused skills into their training.

Sport-Focused Group Therapy: 

The sports nutrition group is designed to educate athletes on how to properly fuel their nutritional needs, both in their sport and their recovery. Using evidence-based guidelines, the group provides education on such topics as macro and micronutrients, hydration, and metabolism, as well as food and mood, eating on the road, and nutritional needs for pre/post/during sport or exercise. The group will also spend time breaking down common nutrition myths, fad diets, and popular supplements. These topics are discussed from an Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size® (HAES®) lens while focusing on the specific needs of an athlete. By applying the science of sports nutrition, the group aims to encourage athletes to build a healthy relationship with food through adaptive strategies and meal plans that enhance lifelong health and optimal performance.

The goal of the Athlete Mental Skills group is to equip athletes with knowledge and techniques for utilizing mental skills to enhance performance. Athletes receive practical, evidence-based sport and performance psychology mental skills training to implement in their performance domain, and in their daily lives. Topics including but not limited to goal setting, imagery, and self-talk are learned, practiced, and applied to optimize performance while enhancing well-being. At the elite level, the mental game is often what sets an athlete apart from their competitors. As group participants experience the benefits of employing mental skills for performance enhancement, we also encourage our patients to apply these same skill sets in the pursuit of recovery.

The intention of the Athlete Body Image group is for each participant to gain an understanding of body image, examine the development of body image, and cultivate a healthier relationship with one’s body. The group works to achieve these goals through the development of critical awareness, productive/applicable skills, and cognitive change. For athletes, a deep comprehension of the impact of sport and culture on the development and maintenance of one’s relationship with their body is critical for effective exploration and processing of challenges to support healthy body image. These topics are approached through a holistic lens that acknowledges and appreciates the unique experiences of high-performance athletes.

The goal of the Return to Sport/Return to Life group is to prepare the athlete to return to their sport environment with increased knowledge and awareness of all aspects of their identity and ways to capitalize on skills learned during treatment to aid on their transition and re-entry to sport/life. Conversation topics including but not limited to values, transitions, athletic identity, career counseling, grief and loss, and movement within society are explored. The group seeks to help athletes deepen exploration of ways to interact with their spot and other aspects of their identity in more adaptive ways as they transition out of treatment.

The intention of the intersectionality and sport culture group is to recognize and explore the various ways in which an individual’s personal culture, broader societal culture, and the culture of sport impact their experience as a person and as an athlete. The group will guide athletes through their own exploration of identifying cultural characteristics within and outside of sport to help provide insights and perspectives about patterns of thought and behavior. Sport culture is a critical factor for athletes to process, as sport and team culture directly influence areas of performance and well-being. These topics are discussed to help athletes develop a stronger understanding of self and others and to explore sport culture aspects that impact their eating disorder and general lived experience. As topics discussed in this group can be sensitive for some, creating an environment of safety and acceptance will be of utmost priority to ensure athletes can openly share and process.

POD (Peer Oriented Discussion) is a process group that meets 3x/week.

Athlete EDGE at EDCare Admissions Process

The first step on your journey to recovery is contacting EDCare to schedule a free, confidential assessment for our program and ask any immediate questions you may have regarding treatment. You will initially speak with the head of our athlete program, who will be able to answer any specific questions you have about treatment. After that, you will be connected with an admissions counselor who will gather the remaining information needed for admission.

Assessments generally take about one hour and can be done in person or over the phone if distance is an issue. During the assessment, you will discuss your medical history, previous treatment, if any, and provide information on your individual circumstances and desires from treatment. This comprehensive assessment process not only helps us guide you to the most appropriate treatment option but, also allows us to put together a treatment team tailored to your individual needs.

What To Expect.

Anxiety and fear are common feelings to experience before beginning treatment. Know that within 72 hours of admission you will be participating in creating a treatment plan designed to fit your athletic needs. To help you prepare, let’s explore what your first two days in our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) will look like.

Your Admissions Clinician will contact you the day before to confirm arrival time and answer any questions. If you are staying at our Connections House or Apartment please bring your luggage and personal belongings with you. When you arrive, check-in with the receptionist at the front desk.

Orientation includes:

  • Complete remaining paperwork
  • Meet with a member of our Finance Team
  • Review patient handbook with Admissions Clinician
  • Receive assigned locker key for valuables
  • Tour treatment center
  • Meet our Milieu Therapists
  • Meet with EDCare Physician
  • Meet your Athlete EDGE at EDCare treatment team:
    • Primary Therapist (i.e., counseling & sport psychologist)
    • Family Therapist
    • Dietitian
    • Psychiatrist
    • Mental Performance Coach
    • Strength & Conditioning Coach

“I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent in the Athlete EDGE at EDCare program in Denver. When I entered the program, I was trying to compete while unprepared and unmotivated. EDCare not only gave me the tools to relearn how to properly fuel myself for athletics (and life in general), but they also helped me find joy again in the sport I’d dedicated my life to. I haven’t felt as fulfilled, strong, and energized as I do now in all my years as an athlete, and I owe that to my time in the Athlete EDGE at EDCare program.” – Alice M.

 Athlete EDGE at EDCare made such an impact on my recovery. It taught me the art of being mindful. I learned to slow down for once, take in my surroundings, and pay attention to my body’s signals. I was able to be vulnerable about my fears, process my emotions, and grieve the identity that no longer defined me. This would never have been possible without EDCare’s athletic program, and for that I will always be thankful.” – Former Patient

Take Action

The treatment of eating disorders can occur in multiple settings depending on the severity of an athlete’s illness. Our Athlete EDGE at EDCare clinicians are available for consultations to help you determine the best course of action regarding your individual cases. If you are concerned about an athlete under your care, please refer the athlete to a mental health professional and medical doctor for further evaluation, and contact EDCare.

Select a location to learn more.

DenverCO SpringsKansas CityOmaha

Frequently Asked Questions:

Our approach incorporates specialized assessment and treatment for high-performance athletes. Our team aims to interrupt eating disorders while incorporating knowledge and recognition of the importance of sport and performance. We utilize a comprehensive, collaborative, sport-informed team who addresses the whole person, not just the athlete or their eating disorder. Our team of providers are trained to work with this unique demographic of patients and have a rich understanding of athletics, athletic environments, and performance cultures. Our treatment team also understands the importance of incorporating coaches and other team-specific support personnel into the treatment process to help aid in the recovery process (as appropriate and desired).

Specialized group curriculum is offered to patients in Athlete EDGE at EDCare. Groups are listed below:

  • Sport Nutrition: Aims to educate athletes by teaching evidence-based sport nutrition guidance to fuel fitness and athletic/sport performance. It will apply the science of sports nutrition and encourage athletes to build adaptive, healthy strategies and meal plans to enhance lifelong health, fitness, and optimal performance.
  • Athlete Mental Skills: Aims to equip athletes with knowledge and techniques for utilizing mental skills to enhance performance.
  • Intersectionality and Sport Culture: Aims to recognize and explore the various ways in which an individual’s personal culture, broader societal culture, and the culture of sport impact their experience as a person and as an athlete.
  • Athlete Body Image: Aims to gain an understanding of body image in an athlete context, examine the development of body image, and cultivate a healthier relationship with one’s body.
  • Return to Sport/Return to Life: Aims to prepare the athlete to return to their sport environment with increased knowledge and awareness of all aspects of their identity and ways to capitalize on skills learned during treatment to aid on their transition and re-entry to sport/life.

“Cleared to return to training” states that a patient’s treatment team has decided that a patient is physically and mentally healthy enough to return to training. To demonstrate readiness to return to training our team looks at the following things:

  • Acknowledging true intentions of exercise, with a growing commitment to not engaging in training to engage in maladaptive behaviors (e.g., control body size/weight, self-harm, purge, etc.)
  • Demonstrating consistent, active participation in program
  • Following program guidelines and procedures
  • Following team’s recommendations
  • Medically cleared by our team physician
  • Consistent compliance with the meal plan (i.e., able to actively consume appropriate nutrition for demands of their sport)

We also meet weekly to assess how each individual is progressing and modify recommendations and training plans as necessary to align with treatment planning and implementation of both the eating disorder and sport.

Our program is based around core components of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), Motivational Interviewing, and Sport Psychology principles. We also have a strong focus on intersectionality and systems/cultural factors that contribute to both the internal and external experiences of our athletes. Treatment with us also includes individual (2x/week) and family therapy (1x/week). The goal of this combination of modalities is to utilize evidence-based practices to help athletes build healthy coping skills to manage emotions, anxiety, and mood while also focusing on a strong return to sport.

The length of treatment can vary substantially from person to person. The time frame is also dependent upon how the individual shows up, how committed they are, and what happens during the course of treatment. We do consider unique circumstances/desires around sport and ultimately work to provide recommendations for treatment based on what is most recovery-focused for each individual long-term.

Treatment includes the following steps: 

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • PHP admit – Comprehensive Assessment (counseling and sport psychologist, sport certified psychiatrist, physician, sport certified dietician, mental performance coach, family therapist, and a strength and conditioning coach)
  • Psychoeducation groups, individual sessions & meal therapy/support
  • Return to training discussion
  • Clinically/medically cleared by team to return to training (including program compliance/adherence)
  • Coordination with our S & C and athletes’ sport performance personnel to design an individualized training plan
  • Pairing mental skills with workouts

Once patients have learned to internalize the recovery skills, they need in the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), they are able to begin the transition back into daily life at home with the support of our transitional Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). This transition may take place in between any of the above steps. At this stage in their eating disorder recovery, patients transition to more meals/training sessions on their own and spending more time away from program. Our transitional Intensive Outpatient Program consists of a five-hour day anywhere from 3-7 days a week. Patients gradually step down before they discharge to an outpatient team.

The Connections House is an integral part of our commitment to providing a fully supportive recovery setting. This tranquil, off-site home is located approximately 3 miles from our treatment center; accommodating up to 13 patients. Transportation between Connections House and EDCare Denver is provided at no additional cost. This clinically supported setting allows patients to practice the skills they have learned, connect with others, and build strong relationships on their journey to recovery. Patients can also choose to stay at a nearby hotel that is located close to the treatment facility. There is no clinical supervision on staff at the hotel and patients are encouraged to support their peers and find ways to practice skills that they are learning during program in a more independent setting. Depending on the patient’s situation a clinical recommendation will be made on whether a patient is placed into the hotel or the Connections House. Housing is typically $30/day, however; accommodations can be made depending on circumstances.

Your Athlete EDGE at EDCare treatment team will work with you to create an individualized treatment program for you both as a person and as an athlete/performer. Every week you will meet with your primary counseling and sport psychologist (2x), sport psychiatrist (1x), family therapist (1x), sport certified dietician (1x), mental performance coach (2-3x), physician (PRN), and strength and conditioning coach (frequency TBD). Changes to treatment plans/recommendations are discussed with the athlete during weekly staffing meetings.

The treatment team consists of:

  • You
  • Your team/family supports
  • Counseling & sport psychologist
  • Mental performance coach
  • Sport certified dietician
  • Sport certified psychiatrist
  • Physician
  • Strength & conditioning coach
  • Family therapist

Upon completion of your time at EDCare, we will have a CAMSA® ceremony to celebrate your success. Additionally, your treatment team will help you establish an aftercare treatment team for continued support and guidance.

The Athlete track treatment team aims to establish a relationship with an athlete’s coach, team, and support system so that they are educated in eating disorders and can offer informed support to an athlete in recovery. The goal is to provide insight into your journey so that they are able to better support you as you step back into your life.

EDCare is committed to providing the most cost-effective treatment possible so you can afford a healthy life. We accept over 35 insurance plans, including some state-funded programs. We work with each individual to address specific financial issues, including single case agreements and out-of-network insurance carriers. We are your advocates for good health and will work with you and your insurance company to obtain coverage.

Many collegiate and professional athletic organizations offer funds to help their athletes with athlete wellbeing. If you are part of an organization, it may be beneficial to see if there are funds available for you to use. Contact your performance organization to enquire about funds through your organization and see if they have recommendations for outside grants/scholarships/loans that can be used for healthcare-related costs.

It is possible to continue working/going to school while in treatment. Many patients utilize online/virtual platforms. This is only advised if their schoolwork/job is flexible or asynchronous and does not interfere with program hours or a patient’s quality of treatment. Athletes should discuss this topic with their team on a regular basis. The athlete track team is aware of the conflicting responsibilities that athletes often face in addition to eating disorder recovery, so we do strive to make proper accommodations, especially if decisions align with and support long-term recovery. We do, however, believe it is our responsibility to put an athlete’s health before their vocational & academic responsibilities.

Patients who are admitted to Athlete EDGE at EDCare can come from a variety of different performance backgrounds including ball sports, aesthetic sports, endurance sports, anti-gravity sports, etc. Patients in this track identify as athletes and performers and are actively participating in their performance domain. Criteria for the track includes:

  • Active participation in an athletic domain at the collegiate, semi-professional, professional, Olympic, or Paralympic level
  • Funding through salary, grants, scholarships, or sponsorships
  • An intention to return to sport post-treatment

Patients do not need to be referred to EDCare. EDCare provides free, confidential assessments. Please note these assessments are designed for our program only and not intended for eating disorder diagnoses. If you think you have an eating disorder, take our Online Screening before contacting EDCare.

A typical day at EDCare varies depending on the needs of the individual patient. The day begins with check-ins and a staff-supported breakfast. After meal processing, patients will begin a full day that includes individual and group therapy sessions. Groups and individual sessions are scheduled around staff-supported meals and snack times. Full PHP participation runs from approximately 8:30 am until 6:00 pm daily.

Research and Statistics:

Eating disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in elite athletes. The prevalence varies from 0-39% in male athletes and 6-45% in female athletes (Bratland-Sanda & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013; Karrer et al., 2020; Mountjoy et al., 2014).

In adult female elite athletes, eating disorder prevalence rates up to 45% have been found.

The prevalence of DE/ED in elite female athletes is high in:

  • Aesthetic sports (42%)
  • Endurance sports (24%)
  • Technical (17%)
  • Ball game sports (16%)

(Sundgot-Borgen J, Torstveit, 2004)

In adult male elite athletes, eating disorder prevalence rates up to 32.5% have been found. Gender-specific risk factors are the drive for muscularity, anabolic androgenic steroid use, and homosexuality.

The prevalence of DE/ED in elite male athletes is high in:

  • Cycling (50%)
  • Gravitational sports (24%)
  • Weight class sports (18%)
  • DE/EDs in male jockeys are associated with low BMD

(Bratland-Sanda & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013; Karrer et al., 2020; Mountjoy et al., 2014)

Among female college athletes, in a wide range of sports, 25.5% of them displayed subclinical symptoms of eating disorders (Bratland-Sanda & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013; Karrer et al., 2020; Mountjoy et al., 2014). 

Aesthetic sports, weight-dependent/class sports, and endurance sports together carry the highest risk for the use of pathological weight management behaviors.

Some studies have estimated as many as 94% of athletes in weight-dependent sports engage in extreme weight control methods prior to competition.

38.2% of male lean sport athletes in their sample engaged in dysfunctional exercise, whereas only 13.8% of non-lean male athletes did so (Dimitrova & Vanlyan, 2019). Lean sports emphasize achieving and maintaining a lower body weight due to the belief that lower body weight improves performance. These often include aesthetic, weight-dependent, and endurance sports such as dancing, long-distance running, wrestling, diving, judo, swimming, etc. (Mancine, Gusfa, Moshrefi, Kennedy, 2020).

Athletes in non-weight class sports lose an average of 3-6% of total body weight; athletes in weight class sports lose on average 13% of body weight during their season (Sundgot-borgen & Garthe, 2011).

Some studies have estimated as many as 94% of athletes in weight-dependent sports engage in extreme weight control methods prior to competition (Sundgot-Borgen & Garthe, 2011), putting athletes competing in these sports at high risk of developing an ED (Rosendahl et al., 2009).

Research has indicated that 30-35% of females, and 17-18% in male’s weight class sport athletes meet diagnostic criteria for an ED, compared to 5% and 16% in ball/game sports or 4% and 17% for technical sports in males and females respectively (Sundgot-Borgen & Torstveit, 2010).

Athletes with an eating disorder are more likely to experience injuries than non-athletes with eating disorders, with up to 40% of athletes reporting a stress fracture (Snyder, Koester, & Dunn, 2006).

However, eating disorders augment the risk of adverse cardiac events due to the impact of malnutrition in athletes engaging in inappropriate levels of activity (Casiero & Frishman, 2006).

For example, Thomas and colleagues support DellaValle’s recommendation (2013) that all female athletes are likely to require an additional 70% of the recommended iron intake due to the additional and varied physiologic demands placed on the female athlete.