Residential Eating Disorder Treatment: 9 Questions To Ask
Eating disorders have the potential to be very dangerous or even deadly. Those who suffer often experience complications affecting all their bodily systems. As a result, they often need to receive residential eating disorder treatment in a dedicated facility where they can get the essential help that they need to get better. A residential treatment center dedicated to those with eating disorders provides those who need it most with extra support, monitoring and structure that they need to turn their lives around.
However, for those who require residential treatment, it can be a worrying time. If they don’t know what to expect from their treatment center they may be anxious and unwilling to cooperate. For family members too, seeking residential eating disorder treatment for a loved one can be a distressing experience. Everyone wants to do the best thing to help their suffering loved one, so here are nine questions which you should ask when seeking the right treatment center for you or for someone you care about.
What Is Residential Treatment For an Eating Disorder?
Many people think that residential eating disorder treatment is the same thing as inpatient hospitalization. However, this isn’t the case.
Hospitalization for those with eating disorders only happens for short periods and only as a result of medical instability. Once the patient is made stable, they are then usually transferred to a residential treatment center where they can get the high level of structure and support they need without the distractions that they would encounter in their home environment.
A residential treatment center for patients with an eating disorder will house patients 24/7. However, unlike a hospital, it is a non-medical facility which provides accommodation, multidisciplinary treatment, and meals.
Who Can Benefit From Residential Treatment?
Residential eating disorder treatment is ideal for any patient who is medically stable but still requires full supervision in order to address the symptoms of their eating disorder. These symptoms include purging, laxative use, dietary restriction or excessive exercise. It may also be an appropriate choice for any patient who lives a considerable distance away from any treatment providers, if they lack social support or if they have other complicated psychiatric or medical factors.
The purpose of a residential treatment center is to improve the patient’s psychological and physical health, with the average stay length being around 83 days. Patients in residential treatment receive supervised meals as well as counseling or psychotherapy as a routine element of their care. Since patients remain in the center full-time, they can have frequent therapy sessions, often meeting their therapist several times weekly on an individual basis while also attending family and group therapy sessions.
When To Seek Residential Treatment
Not every sufferer with an eating disorder needs residential treatment. However, there are times when it becomes the best choice. If you’re wondering whether you could benefit from entering a residential eating disorder treatment center or whether it could be beneficial for a loved one who is suffering, here are some signs to look for that residential care is the right option.
- Have other types of care been ineffective? Have you been in outpatient care for a long time and still haven’t seen any improvement? Have you tried a partial hospitalization program with no effect? If the symptoms of your eating disorder are worsening even though you’re receiving these types of treatment, residential care could be a good option.
- Do you have secondary behaviors? If your behavior alongside your eating disorder is causing you harm, it’s worth considering residential treatment. People who abuse substances, who over-exercise or who self-harm (or who are at risk of self-harming) may find residential treatment is the best way to stay safe.
- Do you have a co-occurring mental health problem? If you’re very depressed or anxious, it might be a good idea to get help in a residential setting where your mood can be continuously monitored.
- Are you medically compromised? Eating disorders have physical symptoms associated with them, and if you’re experiencing side effects it might be a good idea to have residential treatment where close monitoring of your physical well-being can be achieved easily and action taken if you get worse.
- Can you not stop gaining weight, purging or bingeing when in your own home? Whatever the nature of your eating disorder, if your behavior is uncontrollable when you’re at home a residential eating disorder treatment center could hold the key to your getting better. The first stage of any full recovery from eating disorders involves nutritional restoration without any purging, starving or bingeing. When your current living situation makes you unable to manage this, residential treatment could be the head start you need to continue your recovery at home by yourself.
If any or all of the above sound familiar, finding out more about residential treatment programs near you is wise. It could be the step you need to finally make a full recovery from your disorder.
Choosing Residential Treatment For A Loved One Or Yourself
It’s a hard decision to make when you realize your loved one needs residential eating disorder treatment. It can be an even harder decision when you’re taking it for yourself.
However, it has an instrumental role to play in helping you to recover and heal from your disorder. Since there are lots of different residential centers out there, it’s important to know which questions you should be asking when making your final choice. Here, we’ve outlined 9 vital questions that will help to guide your decision when thinking about residential eating disorder treatment
1. What Is The Accreditation Of The Program?
You will be reassured to discover that treatment centers for eating disorders have to meet high standards. JCAHO and CACREP accreditation is something to look out for when choosing a residential facility since both of these agencies carry out extensive investigations to the treatment program in question to determine its quality and suitability.
2. Will The Program Accept My Payment Method Or Insurance?
Sadly, finding free treatment for eating disorders is difficult but there are increasing numbers of centers which participate with medical insurers these days. Call your insurers and ask about the behavioral health benefits available to you, any insurance benefits applicable to specific eating disorder treatments and any programs which are in-network with the plan that you have as well as the deductible which applies. You should also talk to the finance department of the eating disorder center to find out what your options for payment are and how much you’ll be expected to pay.
3. Will You Be Able To Help Me With My Co-Occurring Issues?
A lot of eating disorder sufferers also have co-occurring diagnoses like PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse, OCD or depression. These disorders may impact on your recovery process and therefore finding a program which can address all contributing factors is vital. You should ask how a dual diagnosis would be addressed within their program and whether there is specialized programming in place for patients who have received a dual diagnosis. It’s important to get specific details outlining the way in which all of the behavioral issues you face will be treated.
4. How Many Counseling Sessions Will I Receive?
Asking this question will reveal the quality of individual care that you’ll receive from your residential center. You should be offered extensive counseling opportunities from highly-trained professionals with expertise in the field of eating disorders on both a one to one and group basis. You should also receive family therapy, especially if you’re a younger patient, as well as nutritional guidance and counseling from a registered dietician. You can also check at this time that the psychiatrists on the team are board-certified and that every therapist they employ is fully licensed in their field.
5. Will I Be Allowed Visitors?
It will probably be important for you to know when visitors will be able to come to the residential treatment facility to visit you. Of course, you’ll be receiving treatment for the majority of the time, however connecting with friends and family is another important element during your recovery.
If you’re a parent who is going into treatment, it’s often helpful for children to visit during your time in residential treatment. However, whatever your age or circumstances, it makes a huge difference to be able to participate in a residential program which is accessible to loved ones and friends. It’s especially beneficial if they’re able to join you for family sessions or workshops and to attend caregiver support groups which will help them to learn more about the ways in which they can help you to recover.
6.What Kind Of Aftercare Program Is There?
Recovering from eating disorders isn’t a speedy process and there isn’t any quick fix. You’ll require some kind of effective aftercare program to be in place when you leave your residential eating disorder treatment center. This means you’ll need to ask whether your chosen program offers step-down or comprehensive care and ongoing support. This will ensure that you get the best continuity of care in the long-term after you leave the residential environment and have the best chance of recovering fully without relapsing into your old behavior patterns.
7. How Can My Special Dietary Needs Be Addressed?
If you need to have special dietary requirements addressed while you’re in a residential treatment center, you’ll need to ask about whether those needs can be met by the center of your choice. This will apply if you need vegetarian or vegan food, kosher or Halal meals or if you have food allergies. It’s important, though, to remember you’re getting help for your eating disorder. Dietary preferences that aren’t for medical or religious reasons may interfere with your care. Nutrition specialists and chefs who are employed by residential eating disorder treatment programs are well-placed to help you work towards a full recovery and a positive outcome, so even if you’re devoted to your dietary rules it’s wise to consider relaxing them while you’re receiving residential treatment.
8. Can I Use The Internet And Telephone In Your Treatment Center?
We live in a technology-driven age and most of us have our smartphones practically glued to our hands. We’re used to constantly having access to social media, friends, and family. It might, therefore, be important to you to find out whether there are limits on your computer or telephone access while in residential care. Would you be willing to sacrifice some internet or phone access to participate in the program?
Since accredited eating disorder treatment programs comply with regulations surrounding confidentiality and privacy, many limit patients’ access to smartphones and devices that have cameras not only to protect your own privacy but also to ensure the safety of the therapeutic environment.
9. Do You Provide Evidence-Based Treatment?
It’s important to find out whether the treatment center you’ve chosen offers treatment which is fully backed up by medical research and which is evidence based. There are certain therapies which are known to be especially beneficial in treating eating disorders. These include:
- CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
- FBT (Family Based Therapy)
- IPT (Interpersonal Therapy)
- DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
If your chosen residential eating disorder treatment center offers some or all of these treatments, you can be confident that you’ll be receiving the gold standard of care and will have the best chance of making a good recovery from your disorder.
Asking The Right Questions To Get Treatment For Your Eating Disorder
While the above questions aren’t the only ones you could ask about a residential eating disorder treatment program, they are an ideal starting point to help you get started with making the right choice for you. Choosing the right treatment is essential in laying the proper groundwork to help you recover fully, so take your time and ask as many questions as you need to find out whether the program really is the right fit for your requirements.
When you know what you’re looking for in a residential facility, you’ll be well-placed to make an informed final decision that is the best one for you.