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Family Therapy

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By Angie Best-Boss, Contributing Writer

There is no “one size fits all” model for treating people with eating disorders. People with eating disorders may have a variety of different reasons for their illness – biological, emotional to environmental. In the same way, treating eating disorders usually requires a team approach – with assistance from counselors, psychologists, nutritionists, and other specialists.

Family therapy, or private therapy sessions conducted with both the individual suffering from an eating disorder and his/her closest family members, is intended to treat everyone in attendance.

Recovery too, happens at home, over time, alongside parents and siblings, throughout the course of daily living; this is particularly the case in the face of the limited services provided through managed care these days. Patients typically spend 45 minutes a week with their therapist or doctor. For the rest, 24/7, kids live out their recovery at home, or at school,” explains Abigail Natenshon, author of When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Step-By-Step Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers.

In research carried out at the Maudsley Hospital of London England, it has been proven that family treatment is more effective than individual psychotherapy for anorexics living at home that have been ill for less than 3 years.

Family therapy is almost always helpful for other members of the family as well. If one person has an eating disorder, then many other people in his or her circle of friends and family are affected as well. Holidays, family meals, budgets and even schedules can be affected. The counselor can also give family members tools and advice for staying personally healthy.

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