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Supporting Family Members and Loved Ones in Treatment: What to Expect

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How do you know if your loved one is making progress in eating disorder treatment? This is understandably one of the biggest concerns you will have when your loved one is in treatment for a serious illness.
 
If your loved one in our care is a child (under 18), you will be involved in weekly family sessions. We will review both their progress and challenges regularly. If your loved one is an adult, we will also keep you updated on their progress — as long as they have chosen to have you involved.

Family therapy at Eating Recovery Center

Our family therapy program is an essential part of your loved one’s treatment. In family therapy, we address family dynamics, communication patterns, stressors within the family and other experiences that affect you, your loved one or other family members.

Family therapy helps family members who are going to support the patient after discharge. Goals include education, learning new skills and teaching families how to support recovery.

For children, family therapy will include custodial parents or guardians and other adults they may identify. Family therapy is scheduled at least one time weekly for children in our care and their parent(s).

Adults and their families also have the opportunity to have a family session one time weekly. With adults, this might include a life partner, spouse, friend, adult children and the person or people who will support their care post discharge.

Your loved one’s primary therapist will run family therapy sessions; the primary therapist is the liaison between the family support members and your loved one’s treatment team. The primary therapist will be the one to provide you with updates on progress and challenges for your loved one. They can help arrange times to talk to other team members, if needed.

In many cases, the eating disorder has become a person’s way of “handling” or, more realistically, avoiding problems. This can stem from issues within the family and can also have effects that extend out to other family members.

Family support and education

ERC is dedicated to providing support and education to our families. If your loved one is in residential, PHP or hospital levels of care, there will be family support programming scheduled. Intensive outpatient levels of care may have family education offered. However, some do not, and that is specific to each location and program.

Multi family groups at ERC

These support and education groups are designed to provide you with the education and information you need to be an effective recovery support for your loved one. Multi family groups are facilitated by our highly trained staff. You’ll have the chance to gain understanding, support and validation from other family members who, like yourself, are working to understand and support a recovery for their loved one.  Some groups may include your family member in treatment, however, most often, we are seeking to set up a safe, supportive space for you to open up and discuss your concerns.

ERC’s Family Days

Our treatment sites with higher levels of care — where families often do not live close enough to attend a weekly group — provide monthly education and support programming. Family Days is a one- to three-day event offered once per month. At Family Days, we offer education about eating disorder treatment and discuss issues related to helping a child or loved one who is in treatment. If you are your loved one’s identified support person, the primary therapist will provide you with more information regarding dates and times. You are highly encouraged to attend; our families consistently tell us they find the information and education transformative in their own processes of understanding and learning to support a loved one with an eating disorder. There is no cost to attend.

A special note for parents

Parents, sometimes we may recommend that you take a break from visiting for a few weeks as your child does the hard work of making strides in recovery. These breaks can do wonders and even help to foster independence. During these breaks, we would encourage you to focus on yourself by practicing self-care, taking care of and focusing on other members of the family. If you have questions about visits, please consult with your treatment team.

Working together to achieve recovery

Eating disorders don’t just affect patients — they also affect family members and friends. This means that you play a very important role in your loved one’s treatment: you are an integral part of their recovery.
 
As you support your loved one — validating, listening to and emphasizing with them — we will validate, listen to and empathize with you, too. Let us know if you have any questions or needs while your loved one is in treatment.

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Eating Recovery Center is 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.

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