Recovering from anorexia is a tough process. And many people don't know how to best support someone who is receiving treatment for this dreadful disease. Follow these dos and don'ts to best support your loved one who is in a treatment center.
Do Ask Open-Ended Questions and Respond Without Judgment
Many people in recovery from anorexia nervosa need caring support without judgment. They may also really need to be heard, but it can be hard for people to open up about their illness for fear that it will be "too much" for the listener.
When you ask teenagers open-ended questions about their experiences and respond in a caring, non-judgmental way, you teach them they can trust you. It will be much easier for them to open up to you about the struggles they encounter. Sometimes what an anorexic endures may be shocking to someone who isn't afflicted with the disease, so try to brace yourself for upsetting information.
Don't Criticize Their Appearance
Anorexia is a very complicated disease. People mistakenly think it is about vanity and willpower. However, it's not. Teenagers who are suffering from the disease want to be healthy, especially if they are in an anorexia treatment program. When you criticize the appearance of someone in treatment, it simply reinforces the false idea that people are expecting perfection from them.
If you are worried about the overly thin appearance of a person, it's best to address the actions that are causing the problem. Instead of being critical, ask teens what they need to feel better supported and check in regularly to see how they're doing.
Do Offer to Go to Group or Family Therapy
Most anorexia treatment programs include therapy sessions as part of the plan. Teens may get a lot out of individual sessions, but some family drama may not be resolved during one-on-one sessions with a therapist. You may offer group or family therapy sessions for your teen in addition to the individual psychotherapy they're receiving.
When you go to family therapy sessions and fully participate in them, you can be an even greater part of the anorexic patient's recovery. Try to go into them with an open mind and a willingness to look at your own flaws and mistakes. It can be very healing for teens to hear their parents express love within the structure of family therapy and take responsibility for some hurtful actions.
Finally, simply being there for teens as they go through intense eating disorder treatment can make all the difference. Try to be open and accepting while carefully considering when you need to show a little tough love. The more you support teens in recovery, the more you empower them to successfully complete a treatment program. For more information, reach out to the staff at an eating disorder treatment program.