Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Preparing for Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment – What You Need to Know

Preparing for Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment – What You Need to Know

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Entering an adolescent eating disorder treatment facility can bring a lot of anxiety. Most people simply don’t know what to expect before going in for the first time. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips on what people need to know before admitting for the first time. While much of it should be useful to most upcoming residents, please remember that each eating disorder treatment center has different protocols, so it’s important to ask the centre these questions directly. 

You can get information on the centre before admitting

Most treatment centres have information packets, a web presence, and admissions specialists available via phone. The information packet should contain pertinent information about the basics of treatment and the facility’s methodology and philosophy. Many have extended alumni associations as well, who can give a first-person perspective on what life in a residential eating disorder treatment centre is like. The admissions specialists are trained in crisis management as well as the complete program specifications for each type of eating disorder treatment.

Figure out what kind of questions to ask

If the centre doesn’t have an FAQ on its website, don’t worry. The centre’s admissions specialists are prepared to answer any questions you might have. There are some questions that most prospective clients and their families should ask before making a decision. These include:

  • How long is the programme? 30 days is the norm, to begin with. Is this programme any different? 
  • What is the living situation like? Are there single rooms, or do clients share roommates?
  • How often can the resident expect to be able to visit with loved ones?
  • What kinds of therapy are offered?
  • What medical and psychiatric support is available?
  • Are nutritionists and dieticians available for clients?
  • What is a day like at the facility for residents?
  • What should the upcoming resident bring with them to the facility?

Parents can help allay their adolescents’ fears by encouraging them to list their questions and concerns and writing them down. They way, you’ve got a pre-set list of questions to go over with the admissions specialist.

Make sure you don’t dominate the conversation

Whoever is going to be attending the program should have the opportunity to ask all the questions that they want to ask, preferably directly to the treatment centre staff. There may be things your son or daughter may want to ask that they aren’t comfortable discussing in front of their parents. Give them a chance to speak with the admissions specialist separately, so they can ask these sensitive questions. When you are on the phone together, make sure the potential client is not ignored – their voice is the one that matters most.

Take a tour of the residential treatment facility

There are certain things that simply talking on the phone or visiting a website can’t achieve. If you’re going to spend 30 or more days of intensive emotional rehabilitation, completely changing your life, you need to feel safe and comfortable in the facility. For this reason, most residential eating disorder treatment centres will offer a tour of the centre for prospective clients. If financially possible, you should schedule a time to come visit and familiarise yourself with the grounds, rooms, and staff. If that’s not possible, there may be an option to take a virtual tour.

Talk about what to do when challenges arise

Eating disorder treatment can present challenges that are sometimes difficult to manage. Since challenges are to be expected, it can be helpful to discuss a plan for how the patient and their family will handle such challenges when they arise. The plan that one family comes up with might be different than the plan another family comes up with. Whether the plan is perfect or not is not important. What is important is that all those involved have talked over what may come up and have agreed on how they will try to act when such circumstances arise.

Be prepared to be recovered

With this information, you and your child should be able to prepare for residential eating disorder treatment. Recovery doesn’t always come easy, but it’s less difficult if you’re ready to commit to a better, healthier life. If your loved one is suffering, don’t hesitate. Reach out to an eating disorder treatment centre today.


Image credit: Freepik

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.


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