Eating disorders are serious psychiatric illnesses that affect millions of people everyday. At HPA/LiveWell, in Albany and Poughkeepsie, NY, our belief is that, although recovering from an eating disorder can be a difficult process, seeking professional help tremendously increases the likelihood of success. Sadly, those suffering rarely seek eating disorder treatment on their own. This is why friends and family play such an essential role in initiating professional treatment.
How to Address Your Loved One
Although it can be extremely difficult to persuade a loved one to seek eating disorder treatment, there are ways to approach the subject in a successful manner.
- Have compassion – contemplating eating disorder treatment for the first time can be extremely overwhelming and scary for the person suffering. Be gentle and compassionate to any fears that may arise. Let your loved one know you are there for him or her.
- Eliminate the stigma – remind your loved one that having an eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Let him or her know there are many people who suffer from eating disorders and many who recover. Be open to sharing some eating disorder treatment statistics.
- Separate your loved one from his or her eating disorder – they are not one in the same. Know that the eating disordered part will use any excuse to not get well. Learn more about how to distinguish between your loved one and the eating disorder here.
- Use “I” statements – emphasize things you have observed. For example, “I have noticed you have skipped breakfast this week.” Otherwise, concerns may come off in an accusatory manner.
- Find a balance – between talking about and encouraging eating disorder treatment, and talking about other things. There is a middle ground between forcing the issue and not addressing it at all.
- Connect with the part that wants recovery – even though your loved one may seem opposed to eating disorder treatment, there is likely a part of him or her that no longer wants to struggle. Discuss how life could be different without the eating disorder; remind your loved one of the things he or she wants in life (travel, a family, school, etc.).
Educating Yourself on Eating Disorder Treatment
It can be helpful to educate yourself about eating disorder treatment prior to approaching the topic with your loved one, as he or she will undoubtedly have questions and concerns. If you have a base knowledge about the types of treatment, you will be able to quell some of the concern.
Not only are there many different eating disorder treatment centers, there are different levels of care, and varying approaches to treatment. Although it may seem overwhelming, having a general understanding of these things is vital when approaching your loved one.
Click here to learn more about HPA/LiveWell’s individual and intensive outpatient eating disorder treatment programs.