In many instances, when a person enters a residential treatment center for an eating disorder, the condition has been ongoing. Not surprisingly, in addition to the anxiety and stress an individual has been dealing with in order to maintain their eating disorder and hide its existence, there is the additional anxiety entering a residential treatment facility evokes. Whether someone has already been through a residential treatment program or is a new client, both they and their family are likely to have some anxiety concerning the experience.

How Residential Treatment for Teens Can Help

Teens getting treatment for an eating disorder at a residential treatment facility will be entering a program designed to accommodate the uncertainty, stress and anxiety that such a change entails. While there isn’t any such thing as a typical day, there is an organization and structure to each one that is designed to provide teens with the support and care they need to recover.

As each individual may enter a residential treatment center at a different stage and with a different presentation of their disorder than the next, an individualized treatment plan is tailored for each.

What To Expect at a Residential Treatment Center

There are some generalities that can help ease the questions and concerns a teen may have when entering treatment for the first time. Even if the individual has been in residential treatment for teens prior to this admission, it helps to have a refresher regarding what they can expect.

One of the most important things to remember about a residential treatment facility is that they rely heavily on structure and routine. An analogy many teens may understand is the sort of structure and routine at school. For example, most teens will have the same class at the same time each day or during each block. They will eat lunch in the same general area and at the same time each day.

This type of structure usually extends to the home as well. Most teens must wake up at roughly the same time each school day in order to have enough time to get ready before leaving the house. Once they arrive at home each day after school, teens may complete their homework before going out and they can typically look forward to dinner being ready at around the same time each evening.

Knowing what to expect and what time to expect something to happen helps reduce the anxiety and concern a stay in a residential treatment program might bring up. Many teens already feel an overwhelming sense of being out of control so providing them with this information can help them regain that sense of control.

What to Expect Day to Day

While attending a residential treatment facility, individuals will have a mix of both structured and free time. That being said, there will be particular times when an individual can pursue activities that are not structured. Activities such as games, downtime, writing letters home or journaling typically take place during a prescribed time of the day.

The days start early at a facility that provides residential treatment. There is a great deal of activity that must be accomplished each day. While they are in treatment, individuals will find their days are busy and packed with activities designed to help them recover their healthy self.

After waking up at 7:00am, individuals are provided approximately 45 minutes to take care of their morning routine before they head to process group. During this group session, the pre-meal framework is laid out. After breakfast, the group meets once again for the post-meal aspect of the program. This three-prong approach to meals (pre-meal process group, meal, post-meal process group) is followed for each meal during the time the individual is living in the residential treatment center.

After breakfast, there is an hour-long community meeting and/or some type of process group. This is a good time to point out the flexibility that exists within the schedule even as it remains within a general timeframe. Depending on the needs of the individual and the group, the treatment team may hold a community meeting or they could opt for a process group.

At 10:00am, the group breaks up so each individual can participate in one-on-one sessions. Because each resident’s treatment plan is tailored to fit her needs, the type of individualized attention she receives depends on particular needs of that day and based on her treatment plan. Most often, this comes in the form of an individualized counseling session or an assessment by one of the program’s registered nurses.

During these individualized sessions, the individual’s needs are constantly reassessed and their treatment plan tweaked and revamped as needed. Each girl is approached with loving respect and support as the clinical staff has the same goal as residents themselves: to help them on the path to true recovery.

It bears noting that the staff at a facility that provides residential treatment for teens knows eating disorders are not a simple medical condition that is addressed with quick and easy “cures”. Instead, each individual brings with her to treatment a unique set of circumstances, feelings, fears, desires and more. Each of these helps develop the individualized treatment plan tailored to each individual.

In many cases, individuals who are in a residential treatment facility have co-occurring disorders that need to be addressed during treatment. In order to facilitate treatment and recovery, the multi-disciplinary team carefully assesses each individual to determine the best treatment approach for the co-occurring disorder.

At 12:30pm, the meal process involving pre-meal process group, lunch and post-meal process group occurs. This is followed by academic instruction tailored to each individuals’ needs from 2:00 – 3:30pm. Snack time is built into the day to help meet the nutritional needs of their bodies in a healthy and supportive environment.

After about an hour more academic time, body image group follows. The same mealtime process occurs during dinner. Afterward, the clients take part in some type of expressive therapy, such as art therapy.

The last scheduled nursing assessment takes place at around 8:30pm as a prelude to the night winding down. This is also the time when medications may be taken. It is important to that a residential treatment center has nursing and medical staff on-site 24 hours a day, seven days per week. This is so a nursing assessment can take place and medical care rendered if needed, any time of the day or night.

After the girls take their medications, they have about an hour to themselves. During this time, quiet activities such as journaling, reading, homework or writing letters to family and friends are encouraged. In order for the clients to get the full eight hours of sleep their bodies require, it is lights out at 11:00pm.

The Level System 

The level system defines clear markers of progress as adolescents move through the program while providing an opportunity for individualized treatment goals and challenges. It allows the adolescent to take initiative in setting weekly goals for herself with the support of her treatment team and her peers and serves as an outline for progress in treatment at the pace that best reflects her unique needs.

During level one, for example, an individual may work closely with a dietitian and other nutritional personnel to plan, prepare and eat a meal under their guidance. In later phases of treatment, the individual may go shopping at a local grocery store and pick out the ingredients of a meal she herself planned and will prepare later at the residential treatment facility.

The goal of these levels is to gradually allow the individual to experience everyday situations involving food in a safe, loving and supportive environment. Moving at her own pace and when she feels comfortable ensures the teen is not overwhelmed or stressed by these activities.

While this is true throughout any treatment, having a staff that has been personally touched by an eating disorder can be beneficial during these real-life experiences. Something as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant is viewed as an activity that does not require much thought or emotion. To someone with an eating disorder, however, this act can evoke feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety and more. Those who have personally experienced an eating disorder themselves can fully empathize with an individual who is in treatment for an eating disorder.

By choosing a residential treatment facility specifically geared toward young adults, family members can rest assured their loved one will receive the highest level of supportive care and state-of-the-art treatment outside of a hospital setting.

Clementine is here to support your loved one on the path to recovery. By emphasizing a person first, patient second philosophy and coupled with a luxurious and home-like setting, Clementine offers teen girls and young women the professional and supportive environment they need to fully recover.

Once an individual leaves Clementine, she is followed up extensively with the facility’s proven post-treatment options. These help her navigate the different aspects of life that could present a challenge. The compassionate and talented staff at Clementine strive to provide the highest level of medical and psychiatric care available outside of a hospital. Contact us today to learn how their programs can help your loved one.