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The Importance of Family in Eating Disorder Recovery

By Ellen Broxmeyer, MSW, LCSW, CPHRM
Eating disorders can lead to serious medical and psychological complications when left untreated, making prompt treatment critically important. Loved ones caring for those with eating disorders are often well aware of the sobering statistics: Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health issues, in the U.S. alone, ten million men will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime, and twice as many women (20 million) as men will be affected. In turn the Joint Commission has updated a number of other standards for eating disorder treatment providers - standards that Eating Recovery Center has long championed from the beginning: Using evidence-based assessments, treatment options and resources, hiring highly effective clinicians and staff members, providing care based on safety and quality, monitoring and reporting health outcomes in patients, and being transparent about the cost of treatment, and more.
Father and daughters

Eating disorders can lead to serious medical and psychological complications when left untreated, making prompt treatment critically important. Loved ones caring for those with eating disorders are often well aware of the sobering statistics:

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health issues
  • In the U.S. alone, ten million men will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime
  • Twice as many women (20 million) as men will be affected

Serious complications are associated with eating disorders. Treatment for these illnesses (including treatment for anorexia and treatment for bulimia) is complex. And, as many of you know, eating disorders do not just affect an individual; they affect the entire family system.

Recovery “takes a village”

At Eating Recovery Center, we have always advocated for family involvement in our eating disorder treatment centers and throughout the entire recovery process. We are very pleased that the Joint Commission, our accrediting body, has recently updated its standards of care for eating disorder treatment providers, emphasizing the important role that families play in eating disorder recovery. Starting this month, all Joint Commission-accredited providers will be required to:

  • Engage family members in the care of their loved ones
  • Provide effective individualized treatment and care, including family therapy, when appropriate
  • Offer ongoing education and updates to patients and their families

Our own Ellen Broxmeyer explains: “The Joint Commission expects all eating disorder treatment providers to consider patients and their families as honored partners in the treatment journey from beginning to end. Like we have done since the beginning, all accredited facilities must now consistently give patients and families the information and care that they deserve.”

At Eating Recovery Center, we have always gone above and beyond these minimum standards; we have long offered therapy and programming intended to educate, support and care for families at every stage of the recovery process, including our monthly, three-day educational program designed for loved ones: Family Days.

Qualified eating disorder treatment centers

To family members and caregivers: we are happy to share that the Joint Commission has updated a number of other standards for eating disorder treatment providers - standards that we have long championed from the beginning:

  • Using evidence-based assessments, treatment options and resources
  • Hiring highly effective clinicians and staff members
  • Providing care based on safety and quality
  • Monitoring and reporting health outcomes in patients
  • Being transparent about the cost of treatment, and more

Broxmeyer outlines why these new standards are so important for eating disorder treatment, stating, “The Joint Commission holds facilities accountable for having a complete eating disorder treatment team — including all necessary specialists. Each facility must show that their treatment teams are producing meaningful results, from making a thorough initial treatment plan during admission to requiring that the next provider of care receive a timely discharge summary.”

We are very pleased to see that these standards will now be enforced by the Joint Commission — standards that have long been a core part of our treatment approach.

You can read more about the updated Joint Commission standards for eating disorder treatment.

Ellen Broxmeyer, LCSW, CPHRM is the Vice President of Quality, Compliance and Risk Management for Eating Recovery Center.

Britt Berg writes for Eating Recovery Center.

The Joint Commission, a non-profit, independent organization that certifies health care organizations, holds behavioral health centers and hospitals to the highest standards of safety and quality. Consumers are assured that when they choose a Joint Commission-accredited facility, they are choosing a facility that strictly adheres to following the best, evidence-based practices in healthcare.

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Ellen Broxmeyer, MSW, LCSW, CPHRM
Written by

Ellen Broxmeyer, MSW, LCSW, CPHRM

Ellen Broxmeyer has been with Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center for over a decade, and has worked as a clinician and administrator in intensive psychiatric treatment settings since 1992. A native of the east coast, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Ellen specializes in facility licensing and accreditation and has led multiple successful state and national surveys. She leads the company’s Risk Management program and is also skilled in Performance Improvement, legal issues related to mental health care, HIPAA and privacy law, patient rights and ethics, policy development, emergency management, and creating a culture of safety and quality. In addition to these duties, Ellen also oversees the Utilization Review and Medical Records departments at Eating Recovery Center. She is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM) and serves as the Treasurer of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp) Denver Metro Chapter.

Prior to joining Eating Recovery Center Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center, Ellen worked at Centennial Peaks Hospital in Louisville, Colorado for 11 years as a director of multiple departments, and also at Magellan Behavioral Health for 4 years as a Crisis Clinician and manager. In addition, she has worked as a clinical social worker at several psychiatric hospitals in both the Denver and Washington, DC areas.

Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center are accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

Joint Commission Seal