For Families/FriendsFor Family

UNDERSTANDING THE DISEASE AND GETTING HELP FOR YOUR LOVED ONE

Does my loved one have an eating disorder?
How do I approach a loved one about their eating disorder?
How do I get help for my loved one?
How can The Healing Connection help my loved one?
What can my loved one expect during treatment?
How are families involved in treatment?
What happens after treatment?

 

Does my loved one have an eating disorder?
If you have noticed changes in a loved one's physical and/or mental health in relation to eating, food, weight or shape, please discuss these concerns with your primary care provider or contact our office manager for guidance. Sadly, unhealthy dieting and body dissatisfaction are common and it may be hard to determine whether a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. Common warning signs are provided below:

Additional information can be found at the National Eating Disorder Association's website.

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How do I approach a loved one about their eating disorder?
Reaching out to a loved one about their eating disorder can be incredibly challenging.
Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, a leading researcher in the field of eating disorders, recommends the following considerations when approaching a loved one with concerns ("I'm, Like, So Fat!", 2005):

  1. Prepare for your conversation: get a base knowledge about eating disorders by reading books, watching videos, and visiting reputable websites. See our recommended eating disorder resources.
  2. Define the purpose of your conversation: decide in advance what the goal of your conversation will be. Do you hope to open communication? Encourage your loved one to seek treatment? This will help focus and guide your conversation.
  3. Choose the best time and place: choose a comfortable, private setting for the conversation. Picking a safe environment may help limit your loved one's feelings of defensiveness or distress in response to this challenging conversation.
  4. Identify specific behaviors you have personally observed: use "I" statements and stick to specific facts on the behaviors you have witnessed (i.e. "I have seen you throw your lunch away every day this week"). "I" statements may feel less accusatory to an eating disordered individual who most likely feels ashamed and embarrassed.
  5. Remain calm and be patient: it is possible that your loved one will become upset. Keep the initial conversation short if it begins to develop into an argument. You can return to the conversation at a later time, when your loved one has had a chance to process and settle down, emotionally. Stay patient and reinitiate the conversation in the near future.
  6. Work toward the aim of getting a professional evaluation. If your loved one is a child or teen, you may insist on seeking professional help even if he/she opposes it. If your loved on is adult, expressing your concern and support is crucial, as well as providing information and offering to support in contacting a professional for an evaluation. Free, confidential screenings are available at The Healing Connection by contacting our intake coordinator by phone Monday-Friday at 585-641-0281.

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How do I get help for my loved one?

  • For many, the first step is a consultation with a family doctor or pediatrician. It is best to seek evaluation from a health care professional who has experience and expertise recognizing and evaluating eating disorders. Eating disorder specialists may come from various disciplines, including:
    • Mental health
    • Nutrition
    • Physical health and medicine
    • Psychopharmacology
  • Family and friends seeking treatment for a loved one at The Healing Connection should contact our office manager to schedule an initial phone screening.
  • Learn more about the treatment intake process at The Healing Connection.
  • Learn more about navigating insurance for eating disorder treatment (pp. 67-84 in the NEDA Parent Tool Kit ; F.E.A.S.T. website http://www.feast-ed.org/?page=InsuranceandMoney; Kantor and Kantor Eating Disorder Law Blog: http://www.kantorlaw.net/Practice-Areas/Eating-Disorders.aspx and payment questions.
  • See Port in a storm: F.E.A.S.T. Family Guide to Eating Disorder Treatment (2014) to learn more about eating disorder levels of care and how to choose a treatment team for a loved one with an eating disorder. http://www.feast-ed.org

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How can The Healing Connection help my loved one?

  • At The Healing Connection, we view eating disorders as diseases of disconnection. We work with the recovering individual and loved ones to restore connections with self, others, and the world around us. Learn more about The Healing Connection philosophy.
  • The Healing Connection is licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health and is an affiliate of the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (WNYCCCED). This partnership offers patients and families access to a coordinated, continuous spectrum of care throughout the New York region. Learn more about the benefits of receiving treatment with our network of eating disorder treatment providers.
  • Treatment at The Healing Connection is delivered by an expert and specialty-trained multidisciplinary staff committed to interdisciplinary collaboration. Meet our team of eating disorder specialists here.

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What can my loved one expect during treatment?
The Healing Connection houses a partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program.

See Program Specifics Here:

Learn more about The Healing Connection's treatment groups, view a sample treatment schedule, and read about our nutritional counseling.

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How are families involved in treatment?
At The Healing Connection, patients and families are considered part of the treatment team and collaborate with the team to design an individualized treatment plan based on a comprehensive assessment and grounded in evidence-based treatment protocols and principles. The treatment plan is continually revised, based on the changing needs of patient and family during treatment.

Involvement from family, friends, and loved ones is crucial in order to rebuild the connections damaged by an eating disorder. Our treatment schedule provides several dedicated periods for family work each week, and our staff is always open and responsive to the questions, concerns, and input of friends and family throughout the course of treatment and beyond. Families, when possible, should make every effort to attend our family sessions, which include:

  • Individual family therapy sessions with a specialized mental health therapist
  • Weekly parenting group co-led by a therapist and dietician; parents are provided with educational materials, coaching, skill-building, and meal-planning/meal-time assistance.
  • Weekly multi-family therapy group attended by all patients and their families/significant others; this group aims to increase patients' and families' understanding and education about eating disorders and how eating disorders influence family dynamics.

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What happens after treatment?
At The Healing Connection, we know that recovery is an ongoing process that requires (repetitive) continued commitment and support after discharge from our treatment facility. Leading up to patient discharge, our treatment team works with patients and their families to identify ongoing treatment team supports. Our staff is well-equipped to recommend specialists across the region, including mental health therapists, psychiatrists, and nutritional counselors/dieticians. When available, we provide information on local support groups and life coaching. Rochester-based services include:

  • Parent Mentoring Service, Bharti Dunne
    A wide-range of parent mentoring support is available to families and caregivers of children/adolescents with eating disorders through the services of Bharti Dunne. Bharti is a parent of a recovered individual and has been involved with mentoring parents for seven years. She works with families of patients who receive services within the Western New York Comprehensive Care Centers, the Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Program of Golisano Children's Hospital and The Healing Connection in outpatient and inpatient settings.

    For more information contact Bharti by phone 585-732-0075 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


If it is determined by our treatment team – in collaboration with the patient, family, and family doctor – that a patient requires continued treatment at a different level of care, we will work with our WNYCCCED case manager and network of the Western New York Comprehensive Care Centers for Eating Disorders to ensure that the patient receives the appropriate ongoing support.