How to Help a Loved One Reconnect After Receiving Eating Disorder Treatment

22 Jan by HPA/LiveWell Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating disorders are serious, often life-threatening diseases that affect millions of people everyday.  And while having an eating disorder presents significant challenges, being a loved one and learning how to cope with individuals going through eating disorder treatment can be equally demanding.

Eating Disorder Treatment

The sheer amount of eating disorder treatment centers in this country can make choosing one an overwhelming effort.  When it comes to eating disorder treatment centers, it is important to understand there are different levels of care. The types of treatment for eating disorders are categorized based on the level of care provided. The levels of care differ based on the type of structure involved in the program. A level of care should be chosen based on individual need and severity of eating disorder symptoms and behaviors. In most situations, a mental health professional will conduct an assessment, and make a recommendation based on the information gathered. Eating disorder treatment levels include:

Supporting a Loved One

Returning home after receiving eating disorder treatment can be a difficult time, not only for the individual with the eating disorder, but also for his or her family members and friends. Knowing how to cope with eating disorders and loved ones is hard. Many feel confused about how best to support a loved one, and worry about saying or doing the “wrong” thing.  Although every individual is different, there are some general approaches to being a support to someone returning from eating disorder treatment.

  • Do educate yourself on eating disorders.
  • Do get your own support – having a loved one return home after receiving eating disorder treatment can be stressful. Do not neglect your own need for support.
  • Do share concerns directly.
  • Do listen openly and nonjudgmentally.
  • Do encourage aftercare – professional intervention does not necessarily end after returning home from eating disorder treatment. For the best chance of sustained recovery, it is important for individuals with eating disorders to continue seeking therapy, nutritional support, etc. once back home.

While there are wonderful ways to support a loved one returning from eating disorder treatment, there are also some things to avoid saying and/or doing, as they tend to be unhelpful to the person’s recovery.

  • Don’t comment on body shape or size, weight, or appearance – not even if you think you’re being positive.
  • Don’t enable eating disorder behavior.
  • Don’t blame yourself if your loved one struggles in recovery.
  • Don’t be the food police or the bathroom monitor – maintaining recovery is the sole responsibility of the person who received the eating disorder treatment. Although it may be hard to see a loved one re-engaging in eating disorder behaviors, trying to control him or her will not help.
  • Don’t try to be a therapist – this means having boundaries and acknowledging your role as supportive friend/family member, and not mental health professional.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder and seeking eating disorder treatment, please contact HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York at 218-518-1118 or Poughkeepsie, New York at 845-372-4367.