Our Treatment Group Descriptions

Community Meeting
Once weekly, staff and patients meet together to identify community issues that affect the care of each individual patient as well as relationships among staff members and patients. These issues may include patient responses to particular community guidelines.

Morning Check-In Group
First thing each day of program, individual patients and staff members meet to plan for their day and effectively anticipate events and issues that may emerge during the course of the day. Patients set goals for the day and rate their mood at the start of the day. Patient weights and behavioral symptoms are checked at this time as well.

Contemplation Group
The ability to develop a commitment toward change is the key challenge in the beginning phase of eating disorder treatment. This group helps patients identify where they are on the spiral of change and to practice change skills that allow them to move toward termination of illness. The group helps patients identify the pros and cons of maintaining or stopping eating disorder behaviors, helps them identify discrepancies between their life goals/values and the present reality of living with an eating disorder. It also emphasizes the importance of having mutual connections with others and asking for help in order to maintain forward movement in recovery.

Relational Therapy Group
This group provides a forum in which patients can begin to make connections between their relationships with food and their relationships with themselves and others. This group provides a safe environment for patients to identify their strategies for disconnection (eg: food-related strategies such as binging, purging, and restricting; and non-food related strategies such as social isolation) and to develop more mutual communication and connections with others.

Relaxation Therapy
This brief group intervention facilitates practice of alternative coping and self-care strategies with an emphasis on relaxation techniques. The group involves teaching relaxation skills such as positive imagery, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation. It may also include group recreational activities like board games, art activities, and other distractions useful for decreasing anxiety and tension. These are skills patients can practice after meals and at other stressful points.

Parenting Group
This group is based on relational, cognitive-behavioral, motivational and Maudsley (family-based treatment) approaches that promote parent empowerment, education, and skill development. A mental health therapist and dietitian co-lead the group. Parents are provided didactic education, coaching, and skills building related to emotion regulation and expression as well as meal planning/meal time assistance to help them manage eating disorders and move forward with their daughter or son in recovery. The group includes goal setting/review, homework, and large group discussion. There is an emphasis on how parents can practice skills learned in the program during evenings and weekends home with their children.

Multi-Family Therapy Group
This group is attended by patients and their families/significant others. The group assists members to increase their understanding and education about eating disorders and related family dynamics. Both information sharing and experiential exercises are involved. Topics include the recovery process, stages and process of change, the bio-psychosocial factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of eating disorders, the importance of mutual connections for recovery, ways to connect with loved ones that do not center on the eating disorder, family rules and relationships, transforming disconnections to opportunities for connection in relationships, conflict resolution strategies, and communication/coping skills.

Nutritional Meal Planning Group
This group provides patients with the opportunity to dispel myths and to acquire accurate information about such issues as health hazards associated with eating disorders; metabolism; healthy meal planning; fluids and electrolytes; and the role of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and dietary fat. The Meal Planning Group provides patients an opportunity to receive nutritional counseling, guidance, and support as they plan their individuals menus. The group also addresses issues related to meal planning, food preparation, and shopping to facilitate aftercare work.

Therapeutic Lunch, Snack, and Dinner Times
Therapeutic meals and snacks provide an opportunity for patients and staff to support group members in their efforts to nutritionally care for themselves. Members are expected to complete their meals and snacks within a prescribed time frame. At the end of meals, members have an opportunity to process their eating experiences, offer additional support to one another, and practice alternative coping strategies to manage feelings and thoughts that occur after meals.

Cognitive Therapy Group
This group allows patients to identify and change distorted and negative cognitions associated with their eating disorder and with themselves, others, and the world around them. This group includes discussion of biological and behavioral cues to emotions, selective reasoning errors in eating disorders, rational versus irrational beliefs, and ways to dispute irrational beliefs. The group assists patients to see the effects of rational versus irrational beliefs on feelings and behaviors.

Cognitive Remediation Therapy Group
Individuals with eating disorders have difficulties with flexible thinking and being able to see the big picture. Patients experience all or nothing thinking, have difficulty changing their responses to situations when the rules or context changes, and are excessively detail-focused. They experience these neuropsychological difficulties with regard to eating disorder behaviors as well as in other aspects of their lives. Cognitive Remediation Therapy Group (CRTG) helps patients practice cognitive tasks that activate neural circuits enabling improved cognitive flexibility and the ability to see the big picture. Different from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that targets thought content and form, CRTG targets the processes that underpin negative, rigid and distorted thoughts. This group allows patients to practice cognitive tasks, reflect on their thinking style, and practice alternate cognitive strategies in program and in their everyday lives.

Eating Disorder Psychoeducation Group
This group provides patients with the opportunity to acquire accurate information about eating disorders. Topics covered include some of the psycho-educational issues touched on in the Nutrition Group as well as a broader overview of information regarding eating disorders. For example, this group includes discussion of issues such as the nature of eating disorders; typical symptoms; biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors that maintain and perpetuate eating disorders; the effects of dieting and starvation, body weight and set point; a non-dieting approach to meals; reasoning errors associated with eating disorders; and displacement and body image distortions.

Body Image Psychotherapy Group
This group affords patients an opportunity to examine body image, especially body image distortion. Emphasis is put on body image development, the role of displacement in the development of eating disorders, understanding one's body story, and the impact of relationships on body image. Other issues include the cultural and media impact on body image and challenging cognitive distortions that affect body image. Group discussion and exercises are aimed at promoting a healthier view and acceptance of one's body.

Coping Strategies in Recovery
This group reinforces the notion that recovery is an ongoing process and that symptoms and lapses signal increased stress. Thus they provide an opportunity for learning about the connections between one's relationship with food and one's relationship with self and others. This group assists participants in identifying stressors common in daily life and provides education and skill training to develop alternative coping strategies to more effectively manage stress and maintain recovery. Topics include assertiveness, conflict resolution strategies, time management and problem solving. The physical and emotional manifestations of stress are reviewed. Discussion includes how the eating disorder is an adaptation to stressful life circumstances.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Training Group
Behaviors such as binging, purging and food restriction are often used to comfort oneself, avoid or control emotions, or express oneself. DBT Skills Training Group helps patients to develop and practice alternative skills that specifically promote emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Creative Expression/Music and Art Therapy Group
This group provides each patient the opportunity to explore his/her own eating disorder and its meanings and functions through such modalities as music, drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms. Creative Expression group allows members to make connections between their relationships with food and their relationships with self and others through auditory and visual representations of these things. This group also emphasizes values clarification within the process of self-expression and is especially helpful for patients who have difficulty putting experience into language (ie: talking therapies).

Movement/Yoga/Dance Therapy
The group allows members to make connections between their relationship with food and their relationship with self and others through non-verbal approaches. Through this modality, patients have the opportunity to experience the body as a source of information and satisfaction rather than the focus of unremitting conflict. Through kinesthetic sensing, patients can learn to attend to, identify, and even experience feelings and bodily sensations previously avoided. The group helps patients value their bodies in terms of self-expression, function, and movement. Yoga, in particular, promotes mindfulness and balance and helps patients feel more connected with their own internal experience. It teaches them how to be centered in their bodies, as well as a safe and healthy way of moving their bodies. This group promotes relaxation and a more positive body image and greater awareness of how physical appearance is not the most important factor related to body image. The group is expecially helpful for patients who have difficulty putting experience into language (talking therapies).

Goal Setting and Review/Evening and Weekend Planning Group
This group provides patients an opportunity to establish and review weekly goals. The patients also have an opportunity during this group to review their evening and weekend plans to ensure that they are engaging in activities and managing time in a way that facilitates treatment and their ongoing recovery outside program hours.

Mindfulness Group
This group promotes the ability to accept and observe internal (emotions, thoughts, and sensations) and external events without judgment and to remain in the present (as opposed to worrying about the past or future). Activities include such things as mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises. Mindfulness practices help alleviate anxiety and depression.

Tutoring is available to junior high and high school students during the school year. Tutoring services are provided Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. by individual teachers who are New York State Certified in all subject areas and work through the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) of Monroe County based in Fairport, NY. Our BOCES tutors have worked specifically with youth who have eating disorders. The tutors remain in close contact with the student's school district during their stay at The Healing Connection. The tutors also work closely with the program staff and parents to provide updates about student responses to school work and tutoring.