Residential treatment centers for eating disorders are the most effective way to effectively treat bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and other disorders, but they do require a strong commitment. Before entering a residential treatment program, many adolescents and their parents naturally bear some concerns about entering a residential program for teens. 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.
However, residential treatment facilities are nothing to be worried about or feared; in fact, in addition to providing solid psychological and medical residential treatment programs, they are often comfortable, home-like and luxurious. A quality residential treatment center is more than the sum of its parts – it’s a place to learn more about yourself, learn new life skills, explore mindful living, and more, in addition to treating the disordered behavior. Here are some common concerns people have about entering a residential treatment facility, and reasons not to be worried about them.
- I’ll be under lock and key
Far too often, mental health residential treatment centers, including those which specialize in eating disorders, are depicted in films and TV as sterile, fluorescent-lit hospitals where clients are held involuntarily. This perception of residential treatment facilities, often based around antiquated ideas about mental health treatment from movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is completely outdated in 2019. The simple fact of the matter is that as residential treatment programs are often luxurious and comfortable, and residents are never help under lock and key.
Normally speaking, residential treatment for teens is appropriate for those who do not require intensive medical assistance, where clients can focus on addressing the underlying symptoms that influence the eating disorder and improving their relationship with food and eating. This means that a comfortable, home-like setting is far more conducive to the personal growth and experiential therapies that actually happen there.
- I’ll fall behind in my schoolwork
With the average age of onset being the late teens for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and most other eating disorders, a statistically large amount of cases will appear in people who are still in middle school or high school. These are important periods in the intellectual and academic development of students; missing significant time can negatively affect the client’s studies and college applications. Of course, this can be a huge concern for both students and parents.
The good news is that modern residential treatment programs for teens usually include continuing academic and scholastic segments in their programs. For long-term residential stays, there is normally a time set aside each day for education across a full curriculum. At the highest quality residential treatment centers, there are on-site educational professionals available to conduct classes and individual tutoring. They will also coordinate coursework and lessons with the client’s school and parents, ensuring the student receiving treatment for eating disorders isn’t falling behind.
- I’ll be stuck in the facility for a long time
Another common fear regarding residential treatment programs is that the client will be stuck in the same old surroundings for months on end. This can cause feelings of boredom, of course, but also a sense that the facility is a cocoon of sorts, and re-entering the wider world when treatment ends becomes a culture shock. Thankfully, most quality programs include various excursions and exposure therapies which take clients out of the facility, for learning experiences and for mental wellbeing.
For example, as part of nutritional and meal-planning purposes, a group of residential clients will visit a supermarket (under caring supervision), promoting a sense of comfort around foods and helping normalize non-disordered thoughts concerning meals. Excursions to visit local sights like theatre, zoos, or historical sights are often useful as well – not only to change the routine but to provide real-world opportunities to put mindful living lessons into practice.
Residential Treatment Programs Can Be More
Far from being a dreary, separating, and boring experience that many teenage clients and their parents have concerns about undergoing residential treatment programs, the modern experience is one that can be personally and academically fulfilling. If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of an eating disorder, don’t wait. Seek out a quality residential treatment facility today and start on the path to recovery,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CARRIE HUNNICUTT
With 20 years of behavioural 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 behavioural 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 la