Adolescent eating disorders, meaning eating disorders that develop in children who are younger than 18 years of age, can be a difficult, devastating disease for not just the sufferer, but also for the entire family. A great deal of stress will be put on the family as they help their son or daughter recover from the eating disorder. One of the main components of a treatment program for an adolescent that's suffering from an eating disorder is family therapy. Family therapy is when the entire family, including the person suffering from an eating disorder, sits in a room with a therapist and essentially has a talk therapy session, similar to seeing an individual therapist. Family therapists are trained in order to make sure that everyone feels heard in a family therapy setting. There are three main reasons why you should include family therapy in your treatment plan for your adolescent.
1. Everyone Needs to be on the Same Page
In order to make sure that an adolescent is able to recover from his or her eating disorder, there's a good chance that the parents will be controlling his or her food intake, monitoring time in the bathroom, and making sure that he or she is not over-exercising. In order for these measures to do any good, they need to be applied consistently. It won't work if one parent doesn't make the child finish his or her dinner because it will undermine the other parent's efforts to make sure that the child gets enough food. Family therapy allows everyone to be on the same page about the treatment program and also gives everyone in the family time to ask questions.
2. Reduces Stress
Kids with eating disorders can be horrible to their parents because their parents are making them do something they really don't want to do. Having family therapy allows parents to express to the child what they are feeling and try to reach the child underneath the eating disordered thoughts. This can improve home life for the parents and reduce their overall stress.
3. Involves Siblings
Finally, if you have a child that is suffering from an eating disorder, that child is going to take up tons of your time. His or her siblings might feel neglected. Having these siblings come to family therapy will give them a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns, which will make the recovery process easier on them.
For more information, talk to a family therapist specializing in helping families with eating disordered adolescents make it through the recovery process, or contact Center For Behavioral Health.