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Nothing can be quite as unfamiliar or frightening for parents than trying to navigate eating disorder treatment and recovery for a child. Should parents start looking at residential treatment centers or is a day treatment program more appropriate? Whether teens need access to both medical and psychiatric care in residential treatment or they are needing to step up from individual therapy, one thing is certain, early intervention is key to recovery.

Research shows early intervention is beneficial for most mental health problems; with so much at risk with common eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, it is important for parents to act quickly to find the best treatment option for their child. Interested in learning more about the benefits of residential treatment centers for teens? Keep reading to learn why Clementine residential treatment centers can help teens develop the tools they need to begin on the road to recovery.

Early Intervention and Teen Residential Treatment for Eating Disorders

Most parents do not know eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any known mental health condition. Eating disorders are quite unique when compared to other mental health illnesses. Unlike some other mental health conditions, eating disorders can manifest in both physical and mental complications. Eating disorders can quickly lead to many serious and potentially life-threatening health issues. Some of the most common health issues teens with eating disorders may experience include diabetes, organ failure, cancer or even death.

This makes early intervention and finding the right residential treatment facility extremely important for a successful and long-term recovery. While it may seem the development of an eating disorder  may be a conscious choice from the outside looking in, it absolutely is not. Teens and adults who have an eating disorder often do not understand the severity of their illness and are typically reluctant to seek out help. It is often up to parents and loved ones to step in for an intervention.

Should Parents Choose Residential Treatment Centers for Teens?

Residential treatment centers for teens can be extremely beneficial for teens with an eating disorder, who also have certain medical and psychiatric needs. At Clementine residential treatment centers, patients have access to the highest level of care available outside of a hospital setting. Even though a residential level of treatment may be recommended by your treatment team, there are also several other levels of care available for those who have developed an eating disorder, including:

Intensive Outpatient / Day Treatment Programs

This type of treatment is typically used as a step-down from residential treatment centers for youth or as an additional level of support for those individuals who need more than outpatient individual therapy. Some individuals who are in treatment for mental health disorders are initially treated on an outpatient basis; but when a patient is medically or psychiatrically unstable, a more intensive treatment program may be necessary.

While in outpatient care, patients will see their therapist or nutritionist once or twice each week. Additionally, they may also maintain regular visits to their physician or psychiatrist to help monitor their status. While this may seem like the easiest treatment option to parents, it is important to keep in mind that recovering from an eating disorder can require more intensive treatment. Individuals struggling with an eating disorder and their loved ones should work with a treatment team to discuss the best possible treatment level of care.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Similar to teen residential treatment, both of these treatment options are ideal for patients who need more support than what is offered in outpatient care. Within a PHP, patients can meet with their doctors two to three times per week for up to three to five hours each day. During treatment, they will have access to eating disorder counseling, group therapy, nutritional therapy, structured meals and more. This type of treatment is recommended for those who are medically and psychiatrically stable.

With partial hospitalization programs, patients will meet with their group of caregivers more frequently than in intensive outpatient or day treatment programs, typically five to seven days each week for six to ten hours each day. Parents may hear of this type of treatment referred to as “day hospital” care. Patients can live at home when they are not in treatment, and in most cases if recommended by the treatment team, can participate in activities outside of treatment (i.e. volunteering, taking classes, etc.). If needed, some partial hospitalization programs may offer supportive housing options for those who do not live nearby a residential treatment facility.

Inpatient Hospitalization Treatment

Another alternative to residential treatment centers for youth, inpatient hospitalization treatment is designed to help patients who are medically or psychiatrically unstable. For example, in cases of significant weight loss or malnourishment, teens can benefit from an inpatient setting where experienced medical professionals can assist in a refeeding program before continuing with eating disorder counseling. Additionally, any patients who are at risk for serious life-threatening events, including suicide or heart attack may also greatly benefit from 24-hour clinical care and monitoring.

Typically, patients stay in an inpatient hospitalization treatment facility for three to four weeks. Once they are considered medically stable, they are transferred to a less intensive level of care. This could be outpatient care, intensive outpatient care or more typically, a teen residential treatment center.

Residential Treatment Facility

Residential treatment centers for youth offer patients and their families access to longer-term treatment. This level of care is best for those who are medically stable, but have yet to reach the desired degree of psychological stability recommended for a lower level of care. Residential treatment services are often recommended if teens have found intensive outpatient care or partial hospitalization have been ineffective. Additionally, residential treatment centers are a great option for those who have completed an inpatient hospitalization program and need additional time for recovery in a safe and structured setting.

Should Parents Choose Residential Treatment for Teens?

One of the greatest benefits of teen residential treatment is the fact that patients have access to 24-hour care, 7-days per week in a comfortable and safe setting. They are free from the distractions of day-to-day life and are able to focus their time and attention on getting well and learning new skills that will help them navigate life in the outside world. While the length of stay can vary based on patient diagnosis, families should plan on their children being in treatment for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. From there, outpatient counseling is often recommended to help maintain a successful recovery.

With this level of care, parents can enjoy peace of mind in knowing the residential treatment staff are able to treat psychiatric concerns. Patients will have access to structured programs throughout the day that are designed to offer both psychological and physical healing. Additionally, patients usually have access to a variety of different group therapies, nutritional counseling, art, dance, music therapy, yoga and meditation classes.

Some residential treatment centers take a holistic approach to eating disorder recovery, while some may focus on one particular approach, such as a 12-step program. When choosing a residential program that focuses solely on teen eating disorder recovery, families can also rest easy knowing their child will have access to programs designed with their needs in mind. Most residential eating disorder centers are equipped to provide treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as addiction and depression.

How Can Teens Transition After Completing Eating Disorder Treatment?

For parents of teens starting middle school, high school or college, it is important to look out for the early warning signs of eating disorders. However, what happens to the kids who have completed their residential treatment program and must now transition back into their normal routine? Some of the personality traits that many teens with eating disorders have include perfectionism, sensitivity and high-achieving tendencies. This can make school a perfect storm for eating disorder triggers and make the transition difficult for teens and their families.

Take Things Slowly

Luckily, there are ways to make for a smooth transition back to work and school after treatment that will help buffer against triggers and result in a successful long-term recovery. Most importantly, it is smart to take things slowly and only attempt to tackle one big task at a time. This means, in some cases, it may be better for kids to only start going to school for partial days. If possible, parents should work with the school and treatment team to come up with a schedule that is not too overwhelming. Kids may be able to attend morning or afternoon classes and have a specialized schedule created.

Transitioning back into sports is another task that should be approached slowly. Because many student-athletes are under pressure to maintain a certain body shape or weight, it is important to closely monitor this transition and work with their coaches to be on the lookout for any eating disorder warning signs. If necessary, investing time in a different after-school activity may be beneficial.

Lean Into A Support System

Having a strong support system of family, friends, teachers and medical professionals is an important factor to ensure teens are able to successfully enter back into their work and school lives after completing treatment for an eating disorder. In some cases, it may even be helpful for family members and close friends to attend eating disorder counseling sessions with the patient, so everyone is on the same page. In fact, certain eating disorder therapies actually require that family members work a treatment plan along with their teen to help establish a healthy relationship with food and avoid falling back into past eating disordered behaviors.

Where Can I Find Residential Treatment Centers Near Me?

Want to find a reputable residential treatment center near you? At Clementine, we specialize in providing adolescent eating disorder treatment in a relaxed, safe and comfortable home-like setting. With access to both medical and psychiatric care, our patients are provided the highest level of care outside of a hospital setting. We are here to work with young patients and their families to ensure they have the tools they need to make a successful recovery and navigate life after completing treatment. Our treatment programs are designed to help teens replace their eating disorder behaviors with healthy life skills and a deep understanding of how to embrace a life that reflects their individuality.