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iaedp™ Certification Spotlight

iaedp™ Certification Spotlight

The following is a great resource written by Alli Spotts-De Lazzer, M.A., LMFT 49842, LPCC 844, & CEDS-S that explains and discusses the eating disorder certifications for all professionals treating eating disorders. Due to the nature of these disorders, working with certified and qualified professionals is critical.



When someone is afflicted with an eating disorder, finding a competent provider would be in their best interest. However, this step is often challenging.

Think about your clients/patients with these illnesses. Did they obtain a competent eating disorders specialist on their first treatment attempt—when they were initially ready to seek help? Did they know to look for eating disorder clinical experience or qualifications? Did they understand how to screen for treatment competency?

The general public doesn’t typically possess an accurate or in-depth understanding of eating disorders, nor do they usually know what to expect from an eating disorders provider. Neither is their fault; many may have had the good fortune of not previously needing to know about eating disorders. Further, the influence of diet culture and healthism can make it difficult to distinguish between “healthy” and “disordered” dieting, weight, and body image-related practices. Considering the high mortality rates and risks involved with eating disorders, the vulnerability of the population, and the sometimes-short window of willingness for treatment, locating quality care is vital. It can be a matter of life or death. These factors make a recognizable standard for treatment competence and specialization that the public can trust all the more important.

Many clinicians have probably witnessed their colleagues calling themselves eating disorders “specialists” on insurance listings or marketing material. Some who promote that they “specialize” in eating disorders can mean they want to treat people with eating disorders, and they may or may not have much experience. Others who “specialize” may base that on their personal experiences with these illnesses, weight struggles, dieting, etc. And still, others who “specialize” can have any range of competency skills–from novice to expert. I need to state here that I don’t think that professionals who lack sufficient eating disorder competence are intentionally misleading the public when they advertise that they “treat” or “specialize” in eating disorders. How can anyone know what they don’t know (Eva et al., 2004)? Higher education has a history of providing inadequate eating disorders education (LaMarre, 2015; Sloan, R., 2011; Spotts-De Lazzer & Muhlheim, 2016; Wilson, Grilo, & Vitousek, 2007). For example, in a full program designed to prepare a professional to practice as a therapist, dietitian, or medical doctor, there may be zero to very few readings or lectures focused on eating disorder education. Further, in underserved areas, a clinician may be meeting an unmet need by providing some level of eating disorders treatment, whatever that may be, instead of none.

Since no universally known and accepted standard exists that distinguishes someone as a legitimate specialist, I feel the iaedp-issued CED designations (the CEDS, CEDRD, CEDRN, and the CEDCAT) matter even more. The presence of a CED title assures a concentrated competence level commensurate with that of a specialist, and a person seeking treatment can identify it in a time of need. And although any evolving credentialing process will have had some growing pains over time, the iaedp-issued CED is something the public can generally rely on. Please note that I’m not saying a CEDS/RD/RN/CAT title assures greater skills or proficiency than another specialist possesses; there are many well-educated, inspiring, and seasoned uncertified specialists in the field. I’m saying that I believe the CED designation particularly helps struggling humans to locate competent specialists early in their healing process.

The iaedp Traditional Certification route requires:

  • a minimum of two years of acquiring thousands of hours of concentrated training in feeding and eating disorders,
  • educational modules on eating disorders and related topics (e.g., team collaboration, medical, nutritional, and psychological information),
  • a period of real-time practice under supervision/consultation,
  • a detailed application that emphasizes an active commitment to an eating disorder professional’s ethics, and
  • a comprehensive exam that all applicants must pass.

The iaedp Equivalency application has been a substitution for the Traditional route and has applied to seasoned eating disorders clinicians and experts. Both paths lead to shared base knowledge that any iaedp certified specialist needs to have. NOTE: The Equivalency path will discontinue as of December 31, 2020 (11:59 pm).

Currently, iaedp is the only nationally recognized certification indicating a specialty or expertise in treating eating disorders, and international CED certifications are also increasing in numbers. Insurance companies, Cigna, for example, are beginning to differentiate and give preference to providers who have the iaedp-issued CED credential. The presence of the acronym assures a specialist’s level of proficiency. As already mentioned, the iaedp-issued CED credential can remove a potential obstacle by making someone’s search for a qualified eating disorders professional easier and quicker than it might have otherwise been.

I asked our iaedp Certification Committee members about the personal benefits they’ve experienced from their certifications. Elisabeth Peterson, CEDRD, shared that “I am trusted as the expert, and the credential has helped me expand my practice.” Jill Sechi, CEDRD-Supervisor (S), said, “This is a designation that individuals can see, without ‘knowing’ me, that I’ve met certain education and training in the field and can call myself a specialist.” Eileen Myers, CEDRD, added “It distinguishes the “expert from just the person who says, ‘I work a lot with clients who have eating disorders.’” Leslie Carlos, CEDRN, pointed out this: “Holding the designation shows my patients and colleagues that I am committed to the care and ongoing recovery of those who suffer from eating disorders.”

I want to recognize those pursuing their certification and invite those not doing so to consider it. If you’re finding the process to be daunting or labor-intensive, you’re right; it can be. And that’s partly because the committee is trying to assure that specialists are more than competent.

Here’s some insider knowledge on what the reviewers look for from applicants regarding the requirements such as curriculum vitae (CV), the case study, letters of recommendation, etc.

  • Jessica Baker, CEDS-S, highlighted, “For me, it’s boots on the ground experience and the supervisor’s opinion that matters the most. There are so many different levels of care and systems that I find it important to get a sense of the real work a person is doing and how those around them see the work,” as evidenced in the letters of recommendation.
  • Meredith Reddick, CEDS-S, specified “both the time and attention to detail an applicant puts into their case study with correct diagnoses, evidence-based interventions (or clinical rationale as to why not), countertransference, and opportunities sought for collaboration/supervision/consultation.”
  • Marlena Tanner, CEDRD-S, pointed out, “I think the case study and their CV outlining their experience are both very important. The CV summarizes what they’ve actually done in the field, and the case study then gives a real-life example of how they work with clients.”
  • Leslie Carlos, CEDRN, stressed, “The part of the application that distinguishes the person as an expert can’t be declared as one unit: it’s the experience, the overall treatment approach, and the understanding of the patient experience that creates expertise. All the aspects of the application speak to this and are necessary.”
  • Many of the reviewers would probably echo what one committee member requested of candidates: “Don’t send in an incomplete application! Check your work and then double-check it. Numerous spelling and grammatical errors do not represent you well.”

About this last bullet point, incomplete submissions can cause an application to be returned in full. I mention this because, as a committee member, I wouldn’t want that for any candidate.

The iaedp-Approved Supervisors serve as consultants for CEDS/RD/RN/CAT candidates. They are there to support and answer questions from those seeking these iaedp-issued credentials. For additional clarifications about the iaedp certification process, Beth Harrell, CEDRD, is the Director of Certification (

I recognize that once the availability of the Equivalency route stops, the Traditional path to CEDS/RD/RN/CAT certification may be cost-prohibitive for some interested in attaining their specialist designation. This social justice aspect of accessibility is considered and readdressed regularly. Currently, the Erin Riederer Foundation provides scholarships to professionals in pursuit of their iaedp-issued CED.

We believe that eating disorders specialists have an ethical duty to achieve and maintain the highest levels of both experience and education. While there are many ways to do that, earning the CEDS/RD/RN/CAT is one way you can show how important your clinical and ethical standards are to you and your clients.

Thank you for taking the time to read about this point of view on the iaedp-issued CED designations.

Special thanks to Certification Committee Members, Jessica Baker, Leslie Carlos, Beth Harrell, Eileen Meyers, Elisabeth Peterson, Meredith Riddick, Jill Sechi, Anna Sweeney, and Marlena Tanner for their contributions to this article.

Alli Spotts-De Lazzer, M.A., LMFT 49842, LPCC 844, & CEDS-S, has a private practice in the San Fernando Valley, California. She’s a published author, a public speaker, and a member of committees for both iaedp™ (Certification and Communications Committees) and the Academy for Eating Disorders (Social Media Committee). In 2015, Alli created #ShakeIt for Self-Acceptance!®, a movement sparking conversations about self-acceptance through inspiration and flash mob dance fun. Her new book, MeaningFULL: 23 Life-Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, & Body Image Issues, will be released on January 26, 2021 (publisher: Unsolicited Press). Presale will begin this September. www.TherapyHelps.Us

Eva, K. W., Cunnington, J. P., Reiter, H. I., Keane, D. R., & Norman, G. R. (2004). How can I know what I don’t know? Poor self-assessment in a well-defined domain. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 9, 211–224. B:AHSE.0000038209.65714.d4

LaMarre, A. (2015, June 13). Is the doctor in? Eating disorders training amongst medical professionals [blog]. Science of Eating Disorders.

Sloan, R. (2011, July). RD career path: Nutrition therapist in disordered eating and eating disorders. Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition. Retrieved from

Spotts-De Lazzer, A., & Muhlheim, L. (2016). Eating disorders and scope of competence for outpatient psychotherapists. Practice Innovations, 1(2), 89–104.

Wilson, G. T., Grilo, C. M., & Vitousek, K. M. (2007). Psychological treatment of eating disorders. American Psychologist, 62, 199–216. http://

*Original article can be found here: 

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