New England Eating Disorders Program at Sweetser

Maine’s Longest Standing, Comprehensive Eating Disorder Treatment Program

Rooted in evidence-based treatment, the New England Eating Disorders Program provides compassionate, individualized care for children, adolescents, and adults of all genders.

For more than 30 years, the New England Eating Disorders (NEED) program has been providing high quality, specialized eating disorder treatment in the state of Maine. At NEED, we understand that eating disorders are complex illnesses that impair relationships, self-esteem, mood, and daily functioning.  If you, or someone you care about, is struggling with an eating disorder, our multidisciplinary team of eating disorder experts is here to help support individuals and their families through the recovery process.

Who We Are

Patrice Lockhart, MD

Laura Sproch, PhD

NEED is led by our Medical Director and board certified psychiatrist, Patrice Lockhart, MD, and our Program Director and licensed clinical psychologist, Laura Sproch, PhD, who combined have decades of experience in the treatment and research of eating disorders. Our multidisciplinary team also includes registered nurses and nursing assistants, licensed social workers, and registered dietitians. 

What We Do

Together we provide individual, family, group, and nutritional therapies, as well as close medical monitoring and care. Our program is dedicated to utilizing evidence-based treatments (i.e., therapy that scientific research has shown to be most effective for a particular health problem). We apply cognitive-behavioral and family-based treatment models, adapted for higher levels of care, to support our patients’ safety, which is our highest treatment priority. Safety and treatment goals include eliminating eating disorder behaviors, repairing thinking processes, maintaining physical safety, and strengthening relationships. Involvement of a patient’s identified family is paramount to our treatment and to reaching individualized treatment goals.

Who We Treat

At NEED, we treat individuals with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and other feeding and eating issues

Examples of eating disorder symptoms include:

  • Dietary restriction
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Overeating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Abusing diet pills, laxatives, or diuretics
  • Secretive eating
  • Compulsive eating
  • Over-exercise
  • Extreme picky eating
  • Obsessional thinking about weight, shape, and food
  • Extreme body checking or avoidance

Our Services

It is common to be uncertain about whether you, or someone you care about, is struggling with an eating disorder. At NEED, we understand that eating disorder symptoms can be complicated and confusing, difficult to recognize, and uncomfortable to talk about. Our evaluative services are designed to help individuals and families understand the level of care recommended for each unique case.

Evaluation Services

  • Confidential Telephone Intake: You can call Sweetser’s PromiseLine at 1-800-434-3000 if you have questions or concerns about yourself or someone you care about. Or you can call our intake office at 207.294.4522 to speak directly with one of our experienced and empathic intake staff members who specialize in the care of eating disorders. This intake call is an opportunity to ask confidential questions and to learn more about options for effective treatment.
  • Comprehensive Evaluation: Following the confidential phone intake screening, a comprehensive assessment at NEED supports individuals and their families in evaluating problematic eating behaviors. A full assessment includes thorough evaluation by a licensed nurse practitioner, a licensed social worker or psychologist, and our Medical Director.  Because eating disorders are multifaceted illnesses, this holistic evaluation assesses an individual’s medical, psychological, social, behavioral, cognitive, dietary, and emotional needs.  Our intake team works closely with individuals, their families, and their physicians to craft a customized eating disorder treatment plan based on expert recommendations.  If treatment is required at NEED, we recommend the level of care that prioritizes safety and offers the best chance of success in recovery.

Treatment Services

  • Partial Hospitalization Program: Our PHP provides eating disorder care eight hours per day, five days per week. This level of care is recommended when an eating disorder is seriously impacting a patient’s life causing there to be a medical necessity for intensive treatment.  Alongside supportive peers, a nursing team, and clinical staff, patients complete breakfast, lunch, and two snacks each day while in the program.  There is a strong emphasis on normalized eating and on the development of a safety plan for how to carry out regular eating in a patient’s home environment.  Programming includes sessions with our Medical Director, therapists, nurses, and dietitians in both group and individual settings.  Families and support people participate in weekly group and individual sessions focusing on psychoeducation, safety boundaries, accountability in the home, and behavioral modification.  Patients receive group therapy consistently throughout the day and weekly individual therapy.  A referral to PHP depends on the severity of a patient’s eating disorder symptoms and follows a comprehensive evaluation.  A decision to begin PHP is made collaboratively with the patient, support people, and our treatment team.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program: Our IOP provides eating disorder care three hours per day, three, four or five days per week.  On each treatment day, patients complete two group therapy sessions and one meal with the support of peers and clinical staff.  One treatment day per week includes two multifamily groups which join families to address a range of topics including psychoeducation, behavioral modification, problem-solving, communication, and relapse prevention. Groups are conducted by a licensed clinical social worker, registered dietitian, and/or our Medical Director. A referral to IOP generally follows a successful completion of PHP; however, can be a level of care that an individual directly admits to, depending on illness severity, and other psychosocial considerations.

For Professionals

Due to the complex nature of eating disorders, we understand that professionals often benefit from specialized training on the intricacies of clinical considerations, treatment options, and prevention for eating disorders. At NEED, we offer a diverse range of opportunities for professionals to learn more about eating disorders and the treatment we provide.  Examples of such services include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical assessment and care training by our Medical Director for your practice
  • Workshops for clinicians on eating disorders and evidence-based treatment
  • Trainings for school staff (e.g., deans, guidance counselors, school nurses, college health center staff, teachers, social workers, principals) on how to recognize eating disorder symptoms, address disordered eating within the culture of your school, and support students and their families
  • Workshops for students of all ages on body acceptance, cultural stereotypes, preventative efforts, self-esteem, and food neutrality
  • Educational presentations, on a multitude of topics, for higher education students, academic or scientific conferences, or continuing education programs
  • A 4-hour continuing education course titled, ‘Treating Eating Disorders in a Weight-Biased World’ given by our Medical Director and offered through the Sweetser Training Institute.

For more information about opportunities for professionals, please contact our Program Director Laura Sproch, PhD.

For Students

Interested in being an intern for the NEED program? At NEED, we are committed to providing specialized training to rising clinicians and offer formal clinical internship positions to fulfill higher education requirements, particularly in the area of social work.  We also offer nonclinical internship positions to help support the vast array of programming demands that we have, including outreach, prevention, advocacy, and event planning needs. If you are interested in volunteering at NEED, please contact our Volunteer Office.

Getting Started

At Sweetser, we know recovery from an eating disorder can be a long journey. Our team is a phone call away to help provide the reassurance and assistance to start this journey for you and your family. Together, we can find a new way forward.

No matter how out of control and helpless you might feel right now, NEED at Sweetser can help you to feel safe and start your healing process. Tomorrow can be brighter—we promise.

Begin your eating disorder recovery by calling the eating disorders intake office at 1.207.294.4522 or the Sweetser PromiseLine at 1.800.434.3000.