Articles & Blogs
Compassion Fatigue: Parents of Children with Eating Disorders
The Balancing Act: Managing K-12 School and Treatment
Family Support Guidelines When Your Loved One Has an Eating Disorder
Is it Ever OK to Make Comments about a Child's Body?
Yes I Want Treatment … No I Don’t … Maybe I Do? Let’s Chat About Ambivalence
Eating Disorder Relapse is Common
10 Tips for Mealtime Support
Technology: How It Can Hurt and Help
How to Support Someone with Binge Eating Disorder
Presentation by Elizabeth Easton, Psy.D
Dr. Easton is the Regional Director of Child & Adolescent services. Dr. Easton’s four-part presentation is designed for families to learn about their role in recovery and the skills to become recovery coaches. If you have every wondered “what can I do to help my loved one recover?” this is the video training series for you. The skills taught here apply to “caregivers” meaning anyone who is providing care to a patient in treatment, no matter the age of the patient or the age of the caregiver. Learn how to harness your caregiver power.
Books for Families
By Their Side: A Resource for Caretakers and Loved Ones Facing an Eating Disorder
Skills-based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Method
Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder
Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder: Understanding, Supporting, and Connecting with Your Partner
Anorexia and other Eating Disorders: how to help your child eat well and be well: Practical solutions, compassionate communication tools and emotional support for parents of children and teenagers
Treating Bulimia in Adolescents: A Family-Based Approach
When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder: Practical Strategies to Help Your Teen Recover from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating
Family Eating Disorders (FED) Manual, Guiding Families Through the Maze of Eating Disorders
Off the C.U.F.F.: A Parent Skills Book for the Management of Disordered Eating
Eating Disorders: A Comprehensive Guide to Medical Care and Complications
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders
Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds
Overcoming Binge Eating, Second Edition: The Proven Program to Learn Why You Binge and How You Can Stop
8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience
The Body Image Workbook: An Eight-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive
Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers
Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life
Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think
A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bulimia: Using DBT to Break the Cycle and Regain Control of Your Life
All the various stages of treatment are important, but the beginning is a critical foundation to them all. Our free, Hope Orientation for Family and Friends helps you establish a strong beginning, middle, and end of your time with us. We’ll guide you through next steps, practical tips for how to make the most of treatment, and best ways to support your loved one during their early stages of recovery.
During this orientation, learn about:
- What benefits each level of care offers and how they tie together
- Who your loved one’s treatment team is and when you’ll connect with them
- When you can be involved and why your participation is important
- How to prepare for the end of treatment and when to start getting ready
We know the process of trusting us and continuing to support your loved one through these next steps is no small task. While there are often many questions about the unknown, we’re here to help answer them – and navigate this journey with you.
Takes place every Wednesday at 11:00 am MT.
The Hope Orientation includes a presentation via Zoom, followed by Q&A.
Virtual Family & Friends Education Series
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Treatment - What to Expect
If you are seeking services or want to explore potential eating disorder treatment options, please reach out to a member of our Clinical Assessment Team at 877-711-1690. This group of master’s-level clinicians all have specialized training in eating disorders and mental health conditions. A Clinical Assessment Specialist will answer your questions, provide support, and guide you through an assessment to gather important information.
Be prepared to...
- Share what you know about current and past symptoms
- Answer questions about sleep, self-harm, eating patterns, exercise, and weight
- Exchange information around any previous or current treatment
- Provide personal strengths and hobbies
- Offer any additional information regarding struggles or concerns
You will end your first call with sufficient information to make a decision about the care and treatment of your loved one. The Clinical Assessment Specialist will be your go-to person prior to admission and during the intake process, giving you the opportunity to have someone you know and trust by your side.
Choosing where you seek treatment for an eating disorder or mood and anxiety disorder is a big decision, including where your center of choice is located. Many times the best choice for you will not be in your area.
Patients and their families travel from all 50 states across the U.S. and from every continent throughout the world to our treatment centers so that they can receive the best possible treatment. We are honored that families travel from near and far to be with us. We also recognize how stressful and overwhelming it is to make travel arrangements while you’re making that next big step towards treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should support persons stay in town?
While your loved one is in our care, we frequently suggest that family members and friends return home to care for themselves and other family members, and rest and restore. We also understand that every individual is different and personal circumstances often vary.
Please communicate with the ERC treatment team if you feel that you should stay near your loved one’s treatment center. We will work with you to help make the decision and arrangements that are best-suited for your family.
Is there support for the families and caregivers?
As a caregiver, you may feel incredibly overwhelmed and overloaded. Know that it is normal to feel this way, particularly as you take a big step into the unknown with your loved one.
You are not alone! Our entire team of Community Outreach Liaisons, National Family Outreach Manager, and National Family Advocate are all available to answer questions or lend a listening ear. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the typical length of treatment?
You may wonder how long your loved one will be in our care. While the treatment journey is different for each person, key markers of recovery include Mental/Emotional Stability, Medical Stability, and Insurance Coverage.
All distressing and harmful behaviors – and any serious or acute mood disturbances – will need to be understood, addressed, and treated. Behaviors including starvation, purging, binging, excessive exercise, substance use, and self-harm have been used to help your loved one avoid difficult feelings and thoughts. Yet these behaviors that once served to help them cope ultimately become serious problems.
In our eating disorder programs, we want your loved one’s body weight to be within an ideal range. We also want to confirm that they are able to maintain adequate, appropriate nutrition to sustain a healthy body without significant struggle. The time in treatment tends to be longer for people who are at a lower body weight, and for those who have medical complications.
Insurance companies will sometimes have different criteria and standards for how long your loved one can remain in treatment. While we work closely with third party payers, ultimately – if you are using insurance for treatment – they have the final say regarding length of stay.
More often than not, we are in full agreement with insurance providers regarding treatment plans and length of stay. If a situation arises and we are not aligned, our dedicated business office staff will help you advocate with insurance providers and answer any questions.
Will I be able to communicate with my loved one? Will I be able to contact their care team?
Yes, you can communicate with your loved one. Your loved one will have access to their electronics throughout the treatment day. Yes, you can communicate with the care team. C&A family members will be contacted by the care team the day of admission and will be included in all stages of treatment. Family members of adult patients are invited and encouraged to be a part of the treatment process. Adult patients must complete paperwork giving the care team consent to communicate with family members.
How frequently can I visit my loved one while in treatment? At what point is visitation allowed?
Family and friends are welcome to visit their loved ones in treatment. Please contact the care team to discuss what is supportive for the patient. The care team can provide details re: the specific visitation information.
Am I permitted to send mail and/or packages to my loved one?
Yes, mail and packages are welcomed. Please talk with the care team to learn more about the mailing address.
How will I know when we are nearing a discharge date?Planning for discharge will be discussed with you, the care team and the patient. It is important to plan for a seamless step down by completing IOP and scheduling outpatient appointments before discharging.
Typical First Week
For patients at a higher level of care, your loved one will arrive for the first day of treatment in the morning. Within the first week, your loved one will be introduced to a number of key treatment team members, including:
- A nurse for a physical assessment and labs
- A doctor for a medical assessment and review of any complications, issues, or specific needs
- Your treatment team (psychiatrist, therapist, and registered dietitian) A business office representative who will discuss insurance benefits, payment, and other logistical details
- A staff member who will help your loved one become familiar with the treatment center and settle into the space
Most patients have a similar schedule for their first week of treatment, although individual experiences do vary by program and level of care.
Moving Forward in Recovery
The entire treatment process may seem extremely challenging, and difficult to understand. Our overarching purpose is to help your loved one:
- Establish a normalized eating pattern and routine
- Feel comfortable eating in social situations
- Eat appropriate and adequate nourishment
- Disrupt eating disorder behaviors
Moreover, our programming focuses on helping your loved one replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy coping Strategies.
Dealing with Challenges
Physical and emotional challenges can occur when your loved one begins to adopt healthier eating behaviors. The structured, supportive environment of treatment will help your loved one’s recovery:
- If your loved one has been significantly restricting food, we will work on gradually increasing intake at a safe, steady rate while monitoring lab values and fluid balance.
- To minimize discomfort (stomach pain, constipation, etc.) as the digestive system adapts to regular eating, the dietitian will work closely with the medical team and monitor the meal plan volume and contents.
Support is a key component in learning healthy coping skills to help manage the anxiety that arises when reintroducing foods and increasing variety.
Relapse Prevention Plans
Patients are involved in what we call relapse prevention programming: thinking through and making plans on how to address the challenges of recovery in their home environment. At ERC, we also call these wellness plans, or relapse reliance plans. Patients will begin to actively work on their plan as they near the end of treatment.
Keep in mind that your loved one will discharge from treatment into a “hostile recovery environment.” Our Western society continues to stigmatize mental health disorders and care. Additionally, we live in a culture of “do more, get more, be more” which can drive and reinforce perfectionism. The fast pace and cultural expectations can make it very challenging for our loved ones to prioritize the processes and tasks of recovery once they return home, as doing so requires they act and behave differently than their peers and social groups.
While the recovery process will have ups and downs, some successes and some stumbles, it is important to hold hope that treatment will instill your loved one with increased awareness and recovery skills.
Levels of Care
Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) offers some of the same intensity and structure of Residential mood, anxiety, and eating disorder treatment while providing additional opportunities to practice recovery outside of the controlled eating disorder treatment environment during evenings at home or in peer-supported apartment communities.
ERC is removing the barriers that can keep patients with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders from receiving treatment. Through telebehavioral health programming, Eating Recovery At Home (our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program) offers the same proven care as our in-person treatment centers.
Throughout treatment, your loved one will be surrounded by a team of experts who specialize in eating disorders and other co-occurring mental health conditions. The same team will work closely and collaboratively on all aspects of your loved one’s care.
Your loved one may already have an established treatment team, or a close outpatient provider. Our goal is to work in partnership with other specialists and treatment team members to help achieve the best possible chance for recovery.
The specific goals of family and caregivers will depend on the information gathered during the pre-admission assessment process: used to develop your loved one’s individualized treatment plan.
A variety of sessions are a critical component of your loved one’s programming during treatment, with sessions generally held each week. You can expect to learn more during admission, at which point the treatment team will discuss all aspects of your loved one’s treatment.
Each week, patients have scheduled sessions with their primary therapist. The primary therapist may also interact with your loved one in group or meal support settings. Individual psychotherapy focuses on helping your loved ones identify what is important to their lives, and learn the necessary skills to keep their dedication and focus on these things.
Groups offer patients the opportunity for insight, validation, and support from peers who understand and have experienced similar challenges. Group therapy is where your loved one will develop new perspectives and insights, while learning skills and strategies for coping with life’s challenges. Your loved one’s schedule will include two to four groups each day.
The interruption of eating disorder behaviors, normalization of eating processes, and weight restoration are the focus of our nutrition rehabilitation process. Education surrounding nutrition, meal planning, and weight normalization and restoration are target goals.
The goal for families, caregivers, and support persons is to provide a place of understanding, compassion, and non-judgement. Family therapy will focus on education and skill-building, as participants learn advanced caregiver skills and are guided to apply their new skills as they support loved ones.
Family involvement is especially critical for the parents of younger patients in child & adolescent programming. The treatment approach for patients ages 8 through 17 is rooted in Family-Based Treatment (FBT), which empowers parents to become agents of change in the recovery of their child.
FBT recognizes that families often manage re-feeding and weight restoration for their loved ones, particularly when they are too young or developmentally compromised by their illness to assume responsibility themselves. In using FBT, we have developed an integrated program to engage families in the recovery process.
- We will work with your loved one to select a week’s worth of meals (options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
- We use an exchange system that is generally based on the American Diabetic Association standards.
- We do not focus on calories, which allows for flexibility and helps ensure that nutritional needs are met.
- Registered Dietitians support and answer any questions or concerns.
Depending on individual needs, we consider three meals and one to three snacks per day to be the norm. During meals, patients will be able to chat with peers and participate in light table games. Staff members will also join to help provide meal structure and support.
Food will initially be plated based on the menus that your loved one has selected (in accordance with the dietitian’s recommendations). As your loved one progresses in recovery, they will have the opportunity to incorporate buffet-style dining during mealtimes to practice portioning. As treatment progresses, they may also participate in restaurant outings and cooking groups.
Accommodating Special Dietary Requests
Eating Recovery Center takes food allergies seriously. Documentation of scientifically-proven food allergy testing is requested to accommodate your loved one’s needs, and we may also recommend further food allergy testing during treatment. When your loved one first meets with their dietitian, the staff will assess any special dietary requests (vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.) on a case-by-case basis. We may make accommodations for religious dietary practices, such as providing kosher meals for Jewish individuals.
We firmly believe that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods; rather, we want your loved one to be exposed to a variety of foods. Our goal is to assess your loved one’s needs from a nutritional standpoint, and review each meal plan on an individual basis to help promote recovery. Throughout treatment, we encourage the understanding that all foods are acceptable in moderation.
Support for Adult Patients
While in treatment, adults receive medical and nutritional support from experienced professionals: all of whom address complications associated with a number of different eating disorders and mood, anxiety, and trauma-related conditions.
Therapeutic interventions like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are used to help adult patients learn how to create a rich, meaningful life in recovery. In using ACT, patients are supported and encouraged to identify what they value. Patients learn, internalize, and practice the tools to help them take committed action.
As adult patients move along the path of recovery, they can step down within the levels of care in our comprehensive service offerings. Stepping down to levels of care with more independence and autonomy helps patients protect their recovery as they reconnect with their lives outside of the treatment center – and allows them to test their skills while still operating within a structured, supportive environment.
At the Inpatient and Residential levels of care, patients live at the treatment center. At the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) level of care, patients attend an intensive day program – seven days a week – and live off-site at home or in nearby apartments.
As many patients do not live near their home, patients in PHP often choose to live in an ERC apartment setting. While apartments are not covered by insurance, arrangements can be made through Eating Recovery Center’s business office to purchase living space in low-cost apartment options.
Patients at the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) level live independently. Virtual IOP is additionally offered across the country for patients who require additional convenience and flexibility.
Family Support Services
As caregivers, you can actively help your loved one move through recovery. Regardless of whether you take an operative role in their treatment, or prefer a more hands-off approach, Eating Recovery Center offers an array of programming to support families, friends, and caregivers. These ongoing support services include:
- Hope Orientation
- Virtual Family & Friends Educational Series
- Family & Friends Educational Empowerment Webinar Series
- Caregiver Support Groups
- Family & Friends Resource Guide
- Family Therapy
For any questions regarding support and resources, reach out to the Community Outreach Liaison team at email@example.com.
Nutritional Support Services
Nutrition plays a fundamental role in eating disorder treatment. Your loved one’s thoughts and behaviors around food are most likely negative and destructive, and many individuals need weight restoration in order to fully engage in therapeutic interventions. For those patients who are at a normal weight at the time of admission, nutrition exposure and education are critical in addressing underlying issues related to their relationship with food.
The nutrition philosophy at Eating Recovery Center emphasizes helping patients overcome their fear of food and eating by providing meal structure and support, education on a balanced pattern of nutrition, and collaborative care to achieve a healthy weight for optimal recovery.
Eating Recovery Center’s team of highly skilled Registered Dietitians work individually with patients at all levels of care to develop a personalized meal plan that works to achieve weight restoration and maintenance goals, and meet any verifiable dietary needs. Dietitians also work collaboratively with the entire multidisciplinary treatment team, and participate in meetings to support an integrated understanding of each patient’s progress and treatment goals.
In addition to individual nutrition counseling, Eating Recovery Center’s Registered Dietitians lead group education sessions. These staff members also oversee various exposure activities to deconstruct myths around food and offer opportunities to build confidence in food situations. Cooking classes, buffet-style meals, grocery shopping, and restaurant outings are integrated into treatment plans. These supplementary activities enable patients to develop the necessary skills to prepare them for success in real-life situations outside of treatment.
Support for Children & Adolescent Patients
While in treatment, your loved one will receive medical and nutritional support from experienced professionals: all of whom address complications associated with a number of different eating disorders and mood, anxiety, and trauma-related conditions.
For patients ages 8 through 17*, our treatment approach is rooted in Family-Based Treatment (FBT) and Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT). FBT recognizes that families often manage re-feeding and weight restoration for their young loved ones when they are too developmentally young and/or compromised by their illness to assume responsibility for these tasks themselves. EFFT empowers parents to become agents of change in the recovery of their child.
Additional therapeutic interventions like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are used to help child & adolescent patients learn how to create a rich, meaningful life in recovery. In using ACT, patients are supported and encouraged to identify what they value. Patients learn, internalize, and practice the tools to help them take committed action. Treatment teams also draw from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (RO-DBT).
As child & adolescent patients move along the path of recovery, they can step down within the levels of care in our comprehensive service offerings. Stepping down to levels of care with more independence and autonomy helps patients protect their recovery as they reconnect with their lives outside of the treatment center – and allows them to test their skills while still operating within a structured, supportive environment.
*Programming for ages 10 and under varies by treatment program and location.
At the Inpatient and Residential levels of care, patients live at the treatment center. At the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) level of care, patients attend an intensive day program – seven days a week – and live off-site at home.
Our child & adolescent patients can choose to live in a Ronald McDonald House, an Airbnb with family or friends, or an extended stay hotel. We will discuss the best living arrangements for your loved one and offer suggestions.
Patients at the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) level live independently with their families or caregivers. Virtual IOP is additionally offered across the country for patients who require additional convenience and flexibility.
Family Support Services
As caregivers, you can actively help your loved one move through recovery. Regardless of whether you take an operative role in their treatment, or prefer a more hands-off approach, Eating Recovery Center offers an array of programming to support parents, families, friends, and caregivers. These ongoing support services include:
- Hope Orientation
- Virtual Family & Friends Educational Series
- Family & Friends Educational Empowerment Webinar Series
- Caregiver Support Groups Parent Educational Sessions
- Multi-Family Sessions
- Family Therapy
You will receive a weekly schedule to map out your family support sessions and educational initiatives while your loved one is in treatment.
Family Involvement for Child & Adolescent Patients
A hallmark component of our treatment approach for children and adolescents is our innovative family programming: parents are empowered to become agents of change for their young ones, as well as support persons to help them sustain future, long-term recovery.
Your child may require Inpatient and/or Residential care, or they may enter treatment at the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) level. When your loved one is in PHP, you will participate in practical, hands-on activities – including meal-time planning – to prepare you and your child for life back home.
Over time, your child will spend less time in PHP and more time with you in “real-life” situations before returning home. Family meals, outings, and passes are available as your child moves forward in treatment and recovery.
In addition to opportunities designed to help your child acclimate back into “real-life,” we will ask you to help create your child’s “aftercare plan.” This process involves thinking through and making plans to address the challenges of recovery in the home environment.
Nutritional Support Services
Nutrition plays a fundamental role in treatment: nourishing your child’s body is an important first step.
- If weight restoration is needed, our medical and nutritional staff will carefully and safely manage refeeding.
- For patients at a healthy weight, nutrition exposure and education will help address underlying issues related to their relationship with food.
- A highly skilled Registered Dietitian will work with your child to support them in overcoming fears around food and eating.
- Dietitians work collaboratively with the treatment team to support an integrated understanding of each patient’s progress and treatment goals.
- In addition to individual nutrition counseling, Dietitians lead group educational sessions and oversee various exposure activities to build confidence in real-life food situations.
- Our expert staff of clinicians regularly dine with patients to provide structure and create a therapeutic, supportive meal environment.
- Staff supervision at meals provides the encouragement, redirection of eating disordered behaviors, and role modeling necessary to affect behavior change.
- Dietitians work closely with parents and caregivers to teach the skills and fundamentals of nutrition, food portioning, and food plating: helping you continue meal planning and meal support for your child after treatment.
School During Treatment
Missing school can be a source of anxiety, especially when a student is absent from class because they are in treatment. At Eating Recovery Center, patients and their families do not have to choose between staying in school or getting treatment for eating disorders.
We understand the importance of continuing education while in treatment, and work with our patients to prepare them for academic success after treatment.
- Education Specialists support patients with their daily schoolwork – helping ensure a sense of normalcy – and support them as they transition back to school
- Education Specialists serve as your child’s advocates: helping them understand there is a plan for continued education, and allowing them to feel comfortable putting recovery first
- Education Specialists ensure any material that schools send is taught in an appropriate way: promoting mental wellness by lessening the anxiety of missed assignments All therapists work with patients to continue to develop the skills needed to function well at school
At time of discharge, education transition plans and recommendations are sent to your child’s school to support the transition back into an academic environment. If your child admits during summer vacation, independent learning projects and book clubs are incorporated into treatment plans.
Locations for C&A Treatment