A Few Reasons Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Isn’t What You Think It Is

Residential eating disorder can be an intimidating concept for a teenager. Going to live at a treatment facility disrupts every part of a person’s life. Although that might mean interfering with school, work, or other activities, it also means disrupting the disordered eating behaviors that threaten that life. Eating disorders count among the most dangerous disorders of any kind, including depression, substance abuse disorder and others. Anorexia nervosa, particularly, can have a fatality rate of 5 to 10 percent if left untreated.

Because of the deteriorating nature of many eating disorders, in that they tend to get worse over time, it’s essential to overcome these hesitations and try to secure eating disorder treatment as soon as possible. One way to do this is to learn about what residential treatment is really like. Here, we’re going to allay some of the common stereotypes that might prevent adolescents from seeking help for eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia nervosa, ARFID, or others. Residential treatment doesn’t have to be frightening – and here’s why:

1. Education Won’t Be Neglected

This might be more important to the parents than the adolescent in question, but it’s important. A stay in a residential eating disorder treatment program usually starts with at least 30 in house. They can range to 90 days or more in severe cases, and it’s not uncommon for step-down and aftercare programs to continue for years afterward. That’s a lot of time to be away from academics.

Although you might think the adolescents at a residential facility will only work on their recovery 24/7, the better adolescent programs include a robust educational component. These might include basic texts and weekly classes. However at the top, adolescent-centric facilities, the education programs are much more than that. Students in recovery can count on daily time for classes with licensed teachers ad regular learning assignments. Normally, they will coordinate the program with the individual’s school, matching curricula ad assignments to keep abreast of the planned courses. 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.

2. It’s More Like a Home Than a Hospital

Mental health treatment has often been portrayed as cold, sterile, and institutional in movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Girl, Interrupted, but that portrayal couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, a modern residential eating disorder center is much more like a comfortable home or bed & breakfast. At first glance, most people would never expect that it was a mental health treatment facility.

Many residential eating disorder treatment centers are located in gorgeous natural settings with nearby beaches, woods, or mountains, depending on the location. To promote cooking and promote regular eating, there’ll be fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. While some facilities will require clients to share rooms, the bedrooms will be well-appointed and comfortable. When researching a residential center near you, make sure to get a virtual tour or arrange to go in person.

3. There’s More to Recovery Than Therapy

Although focusing on the treatment at hand is of course the top priority, holistic treatment (treating the whole person instead of only the symptoms of an eating disorder) suggest that a variety of activities are helpful. 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. For that reason, several forward-thinking centers make sure to include “life-enhancing activities” as part of the program.

These might include trips to see a play or concert, visits to museums, or nature walks in the nearby environment. It might also include excursions that directly impact issues surrounding food or eating behaviors, like going grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant. It’s great practice for resuming daily life after treatment. In the facility itself, there might be movie nights, music and art therapy, animal assisted therapy or mindful movement classes. They can be part of experiential therapy or just free-activity time.