BACKGROUND In the world of today's of ever-briefer therapies and interventions, people often seem more interested in outcome than process. This paper focuses on the processes used by a multidisciplinary team in the journey from opposition to change to recovery from eating disorders. The approach outlined is most relevant to those with severe and enduring illness. METHODS This paper describes a five-phase journey from eating-disorder disability and back to health as it occurs for patients in a community-based facility. This integrative model uses narrative and motivational interviewing counseling weaved into traditional approaches. It approaches illness from a transdiagnostic orientation, addressing the dynamics and needs demanded by the comorbidities and at the same time responding effectively in a way that reduces the influence of the eating disorder. The treatment described involves a five-phase journey: Preliminary phase (choosing a shelter of understanding); Phase 1: from partial recognition to full acknowledgment; Phase 2: from acknowledgment to clear cognitive stance against the eating disorder; Phase 3: towards clear stance against the "patient" status; Phase 4: towards re-authoring life and regaining self-agency; Phase 5: towards recovery and maintenance. RESULTS In a longitudinal study of patients with a severe and debilitating eating disorder treated with this approach. The drop-out rate was less than 10%. This was during the first two months of treatment for those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, and this was higher than in those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. At the end of treatment (15 months to 4 years later) 65% of those treated with anorexia nervosa and 81% of those treated with bulimia nervosa were either in a fully recovered state or in much improved. At the four-year follow-up, 68% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and 83% of those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa were categorized as either fully recovered or much improved. All patients who completed the program were gainfully employed. CONCLUSIONS The collaborative work, which is the heart of the described model increases the patient's and family's ownership of treatment and outcome and strengthen the therapeutic bond, thus enhances recovery.