What to Do When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder
When you realize that your son or daughter has an eating disorder, it can be incredibly overwhelming. Eating disorders are complex disorders and serious illnesses. As a parent, there is no “normal” response. Feelings can run from denying that a problem exists, to thinking it isn’t that serious, to not knowing how to fix it. One of the most important things a parent can do for a child with an eating disorder is to seek help from medical professionals and eating disorder specialists.
An eating disorder is not something that will just go away, or that a parent or child can fix by force of will alone. Your family doctor is often a good place to start, so your child can be medically assessed and you can get recommendations on where to get the appropriate help.
Having your child see an eating disorder specialist is another step to take in dealing with an eating disorder. Depending on the severity of symptoms, and the length of the eating disorder behavior, you may be able to take them to a counselor and begin treatment. There are many levels of care to help children, teens, and adolescents with eating disorders. An eating disorder specialist will be able to help determine the best level of care for your child, given their specific needs and situation.
Not All Levels of Care Are Created Equal
Individual therapy is often a good starting point, but may not always be enough to meet the needs of your child. In that case, a Intensive Outpatient program or a residential eating disorder program may be more appropriate and effective. Higher levels of care are available for children and adolescents who are not medically stable and require more structured treatment.
Attending family therapy is another important step in addressing your child’s eating disorder. Family therapy offers a chance for family members to understand the eating disorder and be involved in the recovery process. Research has shown that family involvement therapy can be a critical factor in the success of treatment. Family therapy helps teach communication skills and addresses family dynamics, with all members of the family unit encouraged to participate.
Eating Disorder Recovery
Eating disorder recovery is a long process and it can be difficult for children and adolescents, as well as those that love them. In some cases, different levels of therapy will be needed on multiple occasions. This is not a failure, but part of the process and the important thing is to not stop seeking recovery.
Coping with an eating disorder can be confusing and overwhelming both for the person with the disorder and for their family. You don’t need to cope with it alone, nor should you try. At Center for Discovery we offer one of the only teen and adolescent eating disorder programs and we can help you understand and cope with the difficult complexities of eating disorders.