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Exercise Therapist

Learn about the Exercise Therapist Career for Eating Disorder Treatment

A growing body of evidence, including a study by Duke University, supports the link between exercise and improvement in mental health (American Psychology Association). Many people can attest to this apparent link, whether it be from the calm they experience while practicing yoga, the euphoria they experience while running, or the pleasure they gain from walking.

Like the general population, people with eating disorders can also improve their mental health through exercise. However, individuals with eating disorders often need guidance to help them determine what exercises are healthy and best for their condition. Exercise therapists provide this guidance, and in combination with mental therapy, can help people gain the self-confidence and body awareness necessary to get well.

The treatment of people with eating disorders is largely based on psychological therapy, which aims to resolve mental issues underpinning the disorder. One component of eating disorder psychological therapy is to foster a healthy relationship between the body and mind of a patient. While traditional talk therapy is effective in developing this relationship, exercise therapy can also be useful.

Exercise therapy can be used as an alternative outlet for expression. An exercise therapist can teach a patient to use movement and exercise to get in touch with emotions relating to their eating disorder. For example, a patient may struggle in talk therapy to verbalize his or her feelings, but through movement or exercise she or he may be able to express these feelings in a physical way, and then feel more comfortable to discuss them with a therapist.

In addition to helping eating disorder patients get in touch with underlying emotions, exercise therapists teach patients how to exercise in a healthy way, and to develop body awareness. Many people with eating disorders have a distorted body image, that is to say, they have a negative opinion of their body appearance even though this negativity is not warranted. For example, someone with anorexia or bulimia may think they are overweight, when they are actually underweight or at a healthy weight.  These distorted opinions can lead people with eating disorders to engage in unhealthy physical exercises, which they believe will allow them to reach their desired level of thinness. 

To help patients resolve distorted body image problems, exercise therapists use movement therapy to teach eating disorder clients to respect and accept their bodies. Exercise therapists help clients determine what exercises they may enjoy, such as walking, hiking, yoga, running, aerobics, or swimming.  They may also design exercise plans, and ask their clients to keep an exercise log. Exercise logs are used to monitor the effectiveness of therapy, and to make adjustments to a client’s exercise plan.

Patients who learn to accept their body types, and to express the negative feelings underpinning their eating disorder, have a higher chance of recovering from their eating disorder.  Therefore, exercise therapists play an important role in helping people with eating disorders to get well, and stay well.  Most exercise therapists have a passion for physical exercise and psychology.  To work as an exercise therapist, a background in physical fitness is preferred, and a degree in movement therapy, or some form of mental therapy, is required.  Many exercise therapists are licensed mental counselors, while other have MA’s in psychology, or other related fields.  

If you have a desire to help people with behavior and emotional disorders through the use of exercise and movement, a career as an exercise therapist may help you to achieve your professional goals.

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Results:  10
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2 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni may return for free refresher courses on previously completed classes.
  • Campuses located in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Toronto, Canada, with the online headquarters based in Tempe, Arizona.
  • Offers programs in court reporting, personal training, health information technology, and more.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
  • Established in 1940 as Bryan Stenotype School.
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1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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1 Program(s) Found
  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
  • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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  • Online Courses
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2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
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1 Program(s) Found
Globe University & Minnesota School of Business , Online (campus option available)
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Founded in 1885 as one of Minnesota’s first business schools.
  • Features small class-sizes, experienced faculty, and flexible scheduling. 
  • Teaches with a technologically-focused learning model that helps to enhance the student experience.
  • Offers online, on campus, and hybrid classes, with 19 locations across Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • Nationally accredited by Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
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  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
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5 Program(s) Found
Keiser University Campus , Port Saint Lucie
  • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked #8 in the 2013 Best Online Undergrad Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 70% graduation rate– significantly higher than the national average of 59%. 
  • Ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six regional accrediting associations that accredit public and private colleges and universities in the United States.  
  • Has a network of 26 campuses.

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1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses
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Vatterott College , Kansas City
  • Dedicated to providing career training to students since 1969.
  • Ranks in the top 15% of all U.S. schools providing military educational services.
  • Offers programs in  19 locations in 9 states, as well as online.
  • Provides a career services team to help students with resume review, mock interviewing, campus career fairs, and more.
  • Gives students the opportunity to study business, personal fitness, cosmetology, and more.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
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  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Each year since 2004, The Princeton Review has included California University in its Best in the Northeast listing, recognizing Cal U as one of the best regional universities in the northeastern United States.
  • Ranked #35 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost.
  • Grants students in its Global Online program the same diploma as graduates from Cal U’s traditional degree programs.
  • Has an student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits