You do not have to have it all figured out. It’s common for us to receive a call from a parent of a child, teen or young adult with an eating disorder who apologetically says, “I don’t even know what to ask.” Not only is this okay, it is completely understandable. That’s why we are here – to provide you with information even when you don’t know what to ask and to be available for you when your questions do pop up. I often recommend parents keep a notepad by their bed, so when they wake up at 2:00am with a question, they can jot it down and give us a call the next morning. The important thing to remember is that by exploring options for a higher level of care for eating disorders, you are starting the process of recovery.
Take it one step at a time. When a family first makes the decision to seek out eating disorder treatment, the process can sometimes seem overwhelming. There is a lot of new information to process, so I often encourage families to take things one step at a time. During the initial conversation with one of our Intake Coordinators, you will receive an outline of the steps for admission. This is to give you a sense of our protocol and what to expect moving forward. Once you understand the process, it can be valuable just to look at what comes next. This is true at the beginning of the admissions process, when the first step will be going to the website and completing the Preliminary Assessment Form, all the way through to the end of the process, when the last step is leading your child through the doors.
How to talk to your child about treatment. We strongly recommend speaking to your child about treatment before arriving at Veritas. Every child is different, and, therefore, each and every conversation about entering an eating disorder treatment program will look different. Some patients feel ready for treatment and may even recognize that a higher level of care would be helpful for their recovery. Other times, the conversation is more difficult and parents are met with varying levels of resistance. We suggest having your outpatient team help you have this difficult conversation, or coach you on how to have the conversation at home. Resistance often comes from a place of fear – fear of having their eating disorder confronted, fear of being away from home, fear of the unknown. Sometimes in these situations introducing your child to our facility by showing them pictures from the website can be helpful. Most importantly, remind your child that entering treatment is not a punishment. Rather, tell them that you are concerned about their health and safety and want to provide them with additional help and support. Our Intake team is happy to speak with you on a more individualized basis about how to speak with your child about treatment.
The waitlist. We wish we had a bed for every child in need of treatment for eating disorders. Unfortunately, a lack of beds for children and adolescents with eating disorders is a nationwide problem. This means that, at times, there will be a waitlist for admissions to our treatment facility. The feelings that come up during this time will be different for everyone, but they are often challenging. Families are eager to get in and start treatment. We are here to work with you during your time on the waitlist to determine what is best for you and your family. Our medical team is looking over all the information you submit to help us determine if a higher level of care is necessary sooner than we will be able to provide. We want to provide support and guidance during this difficult time, and we will work to give you updates about our waitlist as soon as we know them.
We want what is best for your child. We recognize that the Veritas Collaborative eating disorder treatment center is not the best fit for every child. Sometimes people are surprised to hear us say this, but it is true. We want to provide you and your family with the best support and treatment for your needs. That is why we ask for clinical and medical information during the intake process and often follow up with additional clinical questions or with request for further medical review. The more details we know about your child’s needs, the better we can assist you. If we do not feel we are the best fit, we will let you know and make recommendations as appropriate. If we do feel Veritas is a good fit for your child, we will be there to help guide you through the entire intake process – giving information, offering support, and providing empathy. Our goal is the same as yours—to get your child into the best eating disorder treatment for their individual needs—and we do everything in our power to help achieve this goal.
Written by Emily Michelman, MSW, LCSW-A