Monday, January 25, 2021

3 Myths About Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment, Debunked

Residential eating disorder treatment is generally considered to be the most effective way to effectively treat bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and other disorders, But some people may feel apprehensive about going into treatment. Before entering a residential treatment program, many adolescents and families have heard some myths about what residential treatment is like and maintain some fears about what they’ll face. After all, there will be new responsibilities, a new location, a new schedule, and separation from the day-to-day schedule they are used to. 

Despite these fears or hesitations, there's nothing to worry about; in fact, in addition to providing solid psychological and medical residential treatment programs, residential eating disorder programs are increasingly comfortable and homey. Modern residential eating disorder treatment facilities are nothing like the sometimes negative media portrayal – they’re places of healing and growth, not institutional, cold hospital-like settings. Here are some common concerns people have about entering a residential treatment facility, and reasons not to be worried about them.

1. It will be like a prison

In the media, mental health treatment centers are portrayed as sterile, fluorescent-lit hospitals where clients are held involuntarily. This perception of residential treatment facilities, often based on outdated and old-fashioned ideas about mental health treatment from movies like Gia or Girl, Interrupted, is truly out of date in 2021. The simple fact of the matter is that residential treatment programs are often luxurious and comfortable, and residents are NEVER held involuntarily.    

Normally speaking, residential treatment for adolescents with an eating disorder is strictly structured, however, creating a focused space where clients can address the underlying symptoms that influence the eating disorder as well as work on a positive relationship with food and eating. This means that a comfortable, home-like setting is to be expected since a feeling of comfort and safety is key to eating disorder recovery.

2. I’ll have to retake my grade in school

Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and most other eating disorders often (but not always) first appear during adolescence. This means a statistically large amount of cases will appear in people who are still in middle school or high school, stretching out into college years. These are important periods in students' development and their college prep. Of course, this can be a huge concern for both students and parents.

Thankfully, adolescent-focused residential treatment centers normally include a scholastic program as part of their daily routine. For long-term residential stays, there is normally a time set aside each day for maintaining the client’s educational path. At the highest quality residential treatment centers, they’ll have certified education professionals to teach lessons and provide tutoring in line with the client’s educational track. They will also coordinate coursework and lessons with the client’s school and parents, ensuring that eating disorder treatment won’t interfere with their education.

3. I’ll be away from home for so long

Another common fear regarding residential treatment programs is that the client will be stuck in treatment for months or years on end. While treatment can take a long time to achieve a full recovery, residential treatment is usually not needed for that length of time. Even for 30-day sessions, though, there might be fears that it will become a dreary, repetitive routine. Thankfully, most quality programs include various excursions and exposure therapies that take clients out of the facility, for learning experiences, and mental well-being.

For example, as part of nutritional and meal-planning purposes, a group of residential eating disorder clients might take an excursion to an open market and do a little shopping in preparation for a meal. Excursions to visit the movies, a live show, nearby attractions like parks, or even to the mall not only make the time fly by faster but also provide a way to put recovery lessons into everyday practice.

Residential Treatment Programs Can Be More

The modern eating disorder treatment experience is one that can be personally and academically fulfilling. It’s certainly not the desperate, boring, difficult experience many people imagine it to be. If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of an eating disorder, don’t wait. Seek out a quality adolescent residential treatment facility today and get started on a happier, healthier life.



With 20 years of behavioral health business development experience, Carrie combines world-class marketing, media, public relations, outreach and business development with a deep understanding of client care and treatment. Her contributions to the world of behavioral health business development – and particularly eating disorder treatment  – go beyond simple marketing; she has actively developed leaders for her organizations and for the industry at large.

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