New Eating Recovery Center Provides Hope and Healing in Irvine
In honor of opening Eating Recovery Center (ERC) Irvine, Clinical Director Laura Sabin Cabanillas, MA, LPCC, CEDS grants us an inside look at the new center. Learn about the supportive, comprehensive care available and the experiences that shaped her passion for patients.
What interested you in helping patients with eating disorders?
“Going to counseling gave me hope during a hard time, and I dedicated my life and career to helping others believe that there is hope, too. When a loved one struggled with an eating disorder that I felt helpless to get him through, I directed my master’s studies to learn everything I could about eating disorders.”
Laura felt her calling and uses it to create uplifting environments for patients who are navigating hard times.
How long have you been treating eating disorders specifically?
“I’ve been with ERC for 10 years, and my experience ranges from working in an outpatient center in Arizona to being an adjunct professor in counseling education at Seattle Pacific University in Washington. When you open yourself up to things you're passionate about, people come to you.”
This is evident as programs grow and prosper where Laura is. When asked about her time with ERC, she said, “I worked as a primary therapist for both Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) patients and served as an interim clinical director in our Seattle program. I also marketed residential programs, spreading awareness for how 24-hour treatment benefits those in need. I now live in my home state of California where I can get back to my passion for patient care: Orange County needed an Eating Recovery Center, and I wanted to provide hope and healing.”
Can you tell us about the ERC Irvine location?
“At the heart of Orange County in Irvine, between two major freeways, accessing the center is easy. People seeking evidence-based treatment for all types of eating disorders have access to PHP 7 days a week and IOP 3 days a week.
“PHP provides daily opportunities for patients to practice new recovery skills in a safe, healing environment, with supportive meals and snacks. IOP includes one meal per IOP day, process groups, and skill-building groups with an emphasis on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Radically Open DBT (RO-DBT).”
What makes ERC Irvine different from other programs?
“When people hear ‘partial hospitalization,’ they picture a hospital. ERC Irvine is not a hospital. Rather, it’s a beautiful setting that adds to the holistic healing practices we have in place.
“We provide a middle level of care to interrupt the cycle of crisis care. Our location is a place to go to disrupt daily habits that may be harming patients, and it is a way to keep symptoms from escalating to a point requiring hospitalization. Eating disorders don’t take the weekend off, so neither do we.”
At ERC Irvine, compassionate staff like Laura teach patients how to accept and have healthy relationships with their bodies.
What is it like to be a patient in the program?
“Patients have care teams that work together to give them the best support possible. Teams include a primary care physician, psychiatrist, primary therapists, registered dietitians, and program therapists. Patients meet individually and weekly with the entire team, utilizing evidence-based therapies and tools that patients can take out and into the world.
“On top of a full team of support and evidence-based therapy, there is a spirituality group as well as a grief and loss group in our adult PHP. The need for more holistic care post-pandemic is needed now more than ever. Other ancillary groups that support holistic care include yoga and expressive art therapy. Eating disorders attack the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. Care at ERC Irvine nourishes the whole person.”
What can family and friends do to prepare?
“It’s important for family and friends to be honest with themselves and their loved one. If an eating disorder is taking over a person’s life, family members and friends need to know that it will not get better on its own.
“Patients and families need help and they need hope. When there is nowhere to turn and loved ones don’t know what to do, ERC is waiting with open arms to educate and empower them. We hold that hope for them until they can hold it themselves.”
When considering treatment at ERC Irvine, know that
- We accept adolescents aged 12-17 and adults, and these age groups are in separate programs.
- People of all gender expressions and backgrounds are welcome.
- Caring, competent staff will be walking beside the patient at every step in the recovery journey at ERC.
How does hope drive you in this new phase of your career?
“My work is largely influenced by the core belief that humans were created for connection and that behavior is largely motivated by our innate drive to love and be loved. I know I’m at ERC Irvine to help people connect to their authentic selves, to others, and to the belief that they deserve healing. I want to let patients and families know it is okay when things aren’t easy, it is okay to need help, and there is always hope.”
None of us are traveling this world alone. At ERC Irvine, compassionate professionals like Laura walk with patients on the journey to recovery.