For an adolescent, choosing to admit to a residential facility for eating disorders is challenging.  It disrupts her schoolwork, her extracurriculars, and her social life.  She might feel a certain stigma and want the visit to be explained away as a vacation, to avoid her peers and teachers knowing she’s undergoing mental health treatment.  Eating disorders, on the other hand, count among the most dangerous disorders known to scientists.  Anorexia nervosa, particularly, can have a fatality rate of 5 to 10 per cent if left untreated.

Despite the natural reservations anyone might have about entering a specialized residential treatment facility of any kind (let alone for a sensitive malady like an eating disorder), the risks of avoiding treatment are too great.  Here, we’re going to de-fang the negative perceptions that might intimidate teens hesitant to get treatment for eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia nervosa, ARFID, or others.  Residential treatment doesn’t have to be frightening; here are a few reasons why:

You Won’t Fall Behind in School

All right, moms and dads – this one may be your concern more than your daughter’s.  A stay in a residential treatment program usually starts at 30 days.  They can range to 90 days or more in severe cases, and continued therapy on an outpatient basis may go on for years.  That’s a lot of time to be away from academics.

Fortunately, most residential eating disorder facilities have at least a basic educational component to their program. These might include basic texts and weekly classes.  At the top, adolescent-centric facilities, the education programs tend to be much more intense.  Students in recovery can count on daily time for classes with licensed teachers, communication with their school regarding assignments and the curriculum.  Especially at a time when college-track classes are more streamlined and competitive than ever, a quality education program can help keep an adolescent on track even while in treatment.

It’s Comfortable and Welcoming

 We’re not sure if the common misperception of mental health facilities as sterile, linoleum-floored storage houses is based on outdated hospitals from the ‘50s or media depictions like in the film Girl, Interrupted.  The truth is, a modern residential eating disorder center is usually dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable space that’s conducive to self-understanding and recovery.  They’re far from the fluorescent lights and metal cots you may be imagining.

You should expect well-groomed grounds, often in a remote, naturally beautiful setting far away from the stresses of the city.  Almost always, there’ll be fully equipped kitchens and dining areas to help re-familiarize clients with healthy eating practices and fully appointed living rooms and bedrooms.  When researching a residential center near you, make sure to get a virtual tour or arrange to go in person.

It’s Not All Classes and Therapy

Everyone needs a break from time to time.  While residential eating disorder treatment is a serious business, it can’t be the only thing someone does for 30 days or more at a time.  That’s why several forward-thinking centers have begun to include what they call “life-enhancing activities” as part of the program.   To promote familiarity with living a recovered life after treatment, and to alleviate the monotony, clients will have the opportunity for excursions outside the center as well as activities within.

These might include trips to see a play or concert, visits to museums, or even something as simple and on-point as going grocery shopping.  It’s great practice for “life after treatment.”  In the facility itself, There might be movie sessions, music therapy and jamming, and a variety of art and drawing classes.  They can be part of experiential therapy or just free-activity time.

Early, Comprehensive Treatment Is Essential

Hopefully, this information will help your daughter put aside at least some of the anxiety that comes with entering a residential treatment facility.  And although some trepidation is natural, the risks that come with eating disorders can’t be ignored.  As with any illness, early intervention is the best indicator of recovery, so if you or a loved one needs help with eating disorders, try to put your hesitation aside and reach out today.

Share this article

Facebook Comments