As an eating disorder therapist, I talk with clients and their parents about the potential of signing into a residential eating disorder treatment center. This is typically overwhelming and scary for my clients to hear because it is so unknown and can sometimes have a negative connotation. I try my best to have both the client and their parents understand why I’m recommending residential treatment and try to explain it's benefits.
What is Residential Treatment:
A 24/7 monitored facility where a multidisciplinary treatment team will assist in the recovery process from an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, ARFID, OSFED and other eating disorders can be treated in a residential facility.
The treatment team consists of a psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner or medical doctor, therapists, nurses, dietitians, chefs and recovery coaches; as well as several other members.
Treatment consists of individual, group and family therapy, meal support and education, and medical support.
Being monitored 24/7 for weights, vitals and bloodwork can help a client become medically stable and remain medically stable. This is an essential part of eating disorder recovery because of how big of a toll eating disorders can take on the body.
At times a client may need medication to be added to their treatment plan and the psychiatrist can assess and recommend a medication. The 24/7 setting allows a client to be monitored for effects and side effects of the medication.
Group therapy can allow clients to meet others in their position, who can understand the struggles of eating disorder recovery. It can also be helpful to hear feedback from a peer who understands rather than a staff member.
More intense individual or family therapy
On an outpatient level, psychotherapy and nutrition therapy typically occur on a weekly basis. At a residential level of care, clients typically meet individually with their therapist more than once per week, which allows for deeper work to be done during the treatment process.
Checking out of the real world for a bit
Residential treatment allows someone to focus on their recovery and not the other stressors of life. This may seem like an odd benefit because an eating disorder functions in the real world, however, sometimes a person just needs to focus on themselves and residential can be the place to do it.
Support with meals and coping tools
Recovery coaches are staff members that assist clients in many ways throughout their time in a residential facility. Two big ways they support clients are at meals and encouraging the use of coping tools. We all need a little help sometimes and recovery coaches are their to help a client through a tough meal or snack and available if they need to check-in about how they are feeling.
Clients meet with a registered dietitian weekly at a residential treatment center. This time can be spent discussing specific foods or components of food, body image, weight and other things a client may be struggling with.
If you have more questions about eating disorders and eating disorder treatment, you can check out: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org. You deserve help.
About the Author:
Stephanie Polizzi is a licensed psychotherapist (LMHC) Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling.
Stephanie specializes in tweens, teens and adults struggling with anxiety, eating disorders, behavioral challenges, life transitions and trauma.
She is licensed in New York & Florida.