Health & Safety
What treatment options are available to help my student recover from a eating disorder?
By Karen Jashinsky
(This is the third in a series of three articles. If you would like to know more about the warning signs of eating disorders, or how to have a conversation with your student about eating disorders, please follow the links.)
Once you are able to have an open talk about your concerns and a decision has been made to seek help for your student’s eating disorder, where do you turn? Who do you talk to? It can be difficult to know where to go for help, but help is out there.
There are a variety of different treatment options for students. It is important that your approach matches your student’s needs. Each person is unique and what works for one may not work for another. The goal of treatment is encouraging your student to shine through while weakening the disorder’s grip on your student.
What are treatment options are available to help my student recover from a eating disorder?
Therapy – Therapy is meant to help people address the issues that underlie their eating disorder by improving their self-esteem and teaching them healthy ways of dealing with stress and emotional issues. Therapy can be conducted by group, individually or with family. Family therapy is a good way for the whole family to express how it is affecting them as a unit. One resource for seeking family-based treatment is visiting www.mausleyparents.org.
Nutritional counseling – Nutritional counseling is designed to help those in recovery with meal plans, dietary goals and maintenance of a healthy weight. Dieticians or nutritionists can educate students about basic nutrition and the consequences of eating disorders. You can search for a Registered Dietician who specializes in eating disorders by choosing “search by expertise” and selecting “eating disorders” here.
Support groups – Having feelings of loneliness or shame is common; being around others that can relate can help your student get through difficult times. A support group is run by people that have dealt with eating disorders and know what your student is going through. It is a safe network created to share stories, advice, encouragement and coping strategies. Online support groups can be found at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Residential or in-patient treatment – This is required when there are extreme physical or behavioral issues that requires a doctor’s supervision. This type of treatment can either be residential or hospital-based. You can find some in-patient programs through the National Eating Disorder Awareness site.
Support for you as a parent – Dealing with your student’s eating disorder can be difficult and emotionally taxing for you as well. It is important to take care of yourself. You should make sure to have your own support system in place to help you continue to care for your student. Support can come from a number of places, whether it be a friend, support group or visiting with a therapist. Having someone to speak with so you can vent and recharge is essential to recovery.
Remember that recovery isn’t easy and takes time. There are no quick fixes or miracles. Being patient, staying positive, and providing encouragement will help you and your student navigate this difficult process.
Entrepreneur and personal trainer Karen Jashinsky is the founder of O2 MAX, a nationwide fitness and media company based in Santa Monica, CA. O2 MAX is a revolutionary fitness solution that combines online tools, social media, and real world workouts to provide an adaptable and personalized fitness regimen for students and busy people. Karen received her MBA in Entrepreneurial from USC, and currently teaches the NASM curriculum to aspiring personal trainers. She is the recipient of the first Emerging Female Leader Award by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). In 2007 IHRSA named her one of the 25 most influential young leaders in the fitness industry.