Eating Disorder Support for Families

When a patient enters treatment, the whole family is affected – and everyone deserves support. At Eating Recovery Center, we know the importance and value of empowering friends, families, and caregivers to better support loved ones through continued involvement, education, and support.

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Eating Disorder Resources for Families

We believe in our patients' capacity to fully recover and build resiliency.  In addition, we know that family & friend involvement in the treatment and recovery journey is invaluable. Our goal is to equip you to support your loved ones through a variety of educational resources:

  • Learn about the unique causes, research, medical complications, and treatment of eating disorders
  • Gain valuable information on how to best support a loved one with an eating disorder
  • Feel more confident as a proactive, knowledgeable support person in your loved one’s recovery journey
  • Become connected with your loved one’s ERC treatment team and clinicians
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Eating Disorder Recovery Articles & Blogs

  • selfcare

    Is it Ever OK to Make Comments about a Child's Body?

  • selfcare

    Yes I Want Treatment … No I Don’t … Maybe I Do? Let’s Chat About Ambivalence

  • selfcare

    Eating Disorder Relapse is Common

  • selfcare

    How to Support Someone with Binge Eating Disorder

Eating Recovery Center offers a robust array of resources including articles and blogs that cover tips for mealtime support, how to provide self-care as the parent of a child with an eating disorder, support guidelines for the entire family unit, and more.

Helping a Loved One Recover from an Eating Disorder

Emotion-Focused Family Therapy with 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 “how can I help my loved one recover from an eating disorder?” 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.

Welcome

Emotion Basics

Step 1

Step 2

Anger

Silence/Shut Down

Eating Disorder Recovery Books

Hope Orientation for Family & Friends

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.

Coming together each week with other families, friends and support systems who can relate and empathize with your experience helps you form a community of personal bonds and connections.

Maggie Moore, National Family Outreach Manager

Eating Disorder Support Groups for Families

Eating Recovery Center offers free, trained facilitator-led, support groups for those struggling with eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other disordered eating issues). ERC additionally provides support groups for families and community members to deliver resources and education on eating disorder treatment and recovery.

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Stay Connected with Your Recovery Community

Are you or a loved one on the path to recovery? Our new opt-in form enables you to stay connected with our team and continue to receive support after discharge and throughout your or a loved one's recovery journey. By signing up, you'll receive the latest free resources, including access to support groups, upcoming events, educational materials, and more.

Virtual Family & Friends Education Series

This educational series is designed for families, friends, caregivers, and support systems. Whether you have a loved one in recovery, know someone actively seeking treatment, or simply want to educate yourself with critical information and resources: join us weekly from the comfort of your home.
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Stay the Course: Practical Steps to Support

Your loved one has moved through higher level of care (HLOC), and they are transitioning back to life outside of treatment. As a caregiver, you play a vital role in helping your loved one move through recovery. We want to make sure you have the practical tools to help everyone carry on. Join us for the Stay the Course: Practical Steps to Support presentation to help identify ways that you can offer ongoing help and encouragement. This presentation will prepare you for the aftercare and wellness planning process.

stay the course

Events

We are proud to offer a variety of events and educational opportunities to our alumni, families, caregivers, professionals and community members.

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beth ayn stansfield

Beth Ayn Standfield, M.Ed.

National Family Advocate

Eating Disorders 101

2nd Saturday of each month | 10:00 - 11:00 am ET | 1 CE Credit

This presentation includes a look at the contributing factors and maintenance factors of eating disorders, an overview of the commonly referenced eating disorders and access to online screening tools to help with early detection and treatment. With lived experience, anecdotes and an abundance of resources, attendees are guaranteed a unique, practical experience. Q & A portion follows the talk.

Eating Disorders 201

4th Saturday of each month | 10:00 - 11:00 am ET | 1 CE Credit

This presentation includes a review of what treatment looks like for those diagnosed with an eating disorder and how recovery impacts their life. With this focus, a great amount of time will be spent on discussing practical tools and ways in which to offer emotional and practical support in the school, the college and the work setting. With lived experience, anecdotes and an abundance of resources attendees are guaranteed a unique, practical experience. Q & A portion follows the talk.

Consider Eating Disorders 101 for School Professionals, Community Members and Caregivers prior to attending.

What to Expect in Eating Disorder Treatment

In addition to experiencing some hesitation around treatment, your loved one will acclimate to a new setting, people, and expectations. Treatment is challenging and can often feel uncomfortable.

Medical and psychiatric stability need to be obtained before your loved one has the cognitive and physical resources to fully work on insight-oriented psychotherapy. Nutritional rehabilitation begins on the first day of treatment and is foundational to both mental and medical treatments. As medical and psychiatric stability are achieved, your loved one will be able to more deeply engage in the psychoeducation and skill-development necessary to achieve behavioral change.

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Getting matched with the exact support they need.

With one conversation, our mental health professionals will help your loved one better understand what they’re going through and what they need.

We will meet them where you are, listen to their story in a therapeutic setting, and match them with the level of support that meets their struggle.

Travel Accommodations

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.

Treatment Modalities

Eating Recovery Center offers supportive, compassionate treatment for eating disorders provided by renowned experts in the field. With an emphasis on sustained recovery following treatment, our multidisciplinary teams offer comprehensive, individualized treatment plans focused on an evidence-based approach to healing. Therapeutic approaches include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Radically Open DBT, and Exposure and Response Therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should family members stay nearby when a loved one is in eating disorder treatment?

    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.

  • Where can I find eating disorder support for 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 [email protected].

  • What is the typical length of eating disorder 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.

  • What are the key markers of recovery?

    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.

  • What can I expect in terms of insurance and payment?

    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.

ways to show support

Eating Disorder Relapse Prevention

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.

relapse prevention planning

Eating Disorder Treatment Programs

ERC offers programming and services to support your loved one’s health and protect recovery at every level of care in eating disorder treatment. At ERC, your loved one will work with a team of compassionate, highly trained clinicians who will collaborate on an individualized treatment plan that emphasizes building skills, confidence, and support to maintain recovery after treatment.

At each level of care, our evidence-based treatment approach utilizes behavioral interventions that not only address symptoms, but also seek to understand the underlying meaning and function of behaviors.

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Levels of Care