Eating Recovery Center Launches Alumni Program to Promote Lasting Recovery
Leading Eating Disorders Treatment Center Aims to Reduce Relapse and Foster Supportive Recovery Environment for Patients Studies have shown that anywhere from one-third to 40 percent of individuals treated for anorexia or bulimia will relapse. Eating Recovery Center, a national center for eating disorders recovery providing comprehensive treatment for anorexia and bulimia, aims to reduce this statistic. Recognizing that eating disorders are difficult to overcome alone, the treatment center has launched an alumni-focused program aimed at preventing relapse and fostering a supportive recovery environment for its patients. “Patients leaving treatment consistently identify that the peer and treatment team support they had during their treatment program was a key element in their recovery process,” said Enola Gorham, LCSW, CEDS, clinical director of adult services at Eating Recovery Center. “Alumni programs provide the recovering eating disordered patient with an opportunity to reconnect with a recovery-focused community, benefit from the support of peers and refocus on the elements of recovery.” The alumni program kicked off July 10 and 11 with a retreat attended by Eating Recovery Center alumni. The event, which focused on helping the former patients renew their individual commitments to anorexia or bulimia recovery, featured an interactive program led by Eating Recovery Center’s clinical leadership team. Therapeutic movement, art sessions and group activities offered opportunities for alumni to recharge their recovery and reconnect with fellow Eating Recovery Center peers and staff. “When in treatment at Eating Recovery Center, all patients are introduced to the ‘it takes a village’ concept of recovery,” explained Gorham. “In this model, the person who is working to change behaviors needs honest feedback and support from people whom the patient knows have his or her best interest at heart. Upon leaving the treatment environment, patients can have a very hard time recreating a ‘village’ of support and care for themselves.” In order to build a village of support, promote eating disorders recovery and reduce chances of relapse, Gorham recommends that recovering individuals follow these three tips: 1. Build a strong support environment, which includes a knowledgeable treatment team. 2. Prioritize recovery. Individuals leaving treatment are new to recovery and must put a lot of time, effort and energy into recovery. Gorham recommends that individuals in recovery simplify their lives as much as possible, and measure all commitments and activities against the standard of “will this help me keep my health and recovery?” 3. Trust your treatment team and follow their advice. Eating Recovery Center is planning additional tools and activities to help alumni maintain recovery mindsets. The Center is currently developing a website resource to offer continued support to alumni. Additional program elements under consideration include eating disorders support groups, social media, regional and local events and an alumni-focused e-newsletter. For more information about Eating Recovery Center’s alumni-focused program, please visit EatingRecoveryCenter.com.