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A provider and her young patient hold hands over a table
March 17, 2023

A Collaborative Care Approach to Treating Eating Disorders in Adolescents

A young patient enters your office with their parent, the parent understandably worried about the child’s dwindling number of “safe” foods. Their rising anxiety levels. Their near-constant complaints of stomach pain.

Something doesn’t seem right. You suspect it may be an eating disorder—a serious illness that requires timely intervention from providers like you. Once identified, eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and ARFID require a prompt course of action: comprehensive treatment from a multidisciplinary team of eating disorder specialists.

If you encounter a child or adolescent patient displaying eating disorder symptoms, consider Veritas Collaborative your trusted partner. We offer a range of treatment programs specifically tailored to the needs of young people. Our multidisciplinary care teams, including medical providers, therapists, and dietitians, offer expert and compassionate care to address all aspects of your patient’s illness.

The Role of Medical, Therapy, and Nutrition Providers in Eating Disorder Treatment 

1. Medical Providers

Eating disorders can irreversibly impact on a young person’s growth and development, causing unique medical complications that require specialized care. At Veritas Collaborative, our team of medical providers identify, approach, and manage the unique medical issues impacting this age group, such as arrested growth and delayed puberty. This team includes pediatricians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and medical assistants, who all work together to reduce the physical impact of eating disorders on growing young bodies. 

2. Therapists

Alongside our dedicated medical providers, our therapists help patients explore the complex relationship between eating disorder behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. They provide age-appropriate support to help young patients in identifying triggers and developing the coping skills they need to better regulate emotions and nurture a more positive relationship with self.

Among our evidence-based therapeutic approaches are dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and family-based therapy (FBT). We offer therapeutic services for individuals, groups, and families, with the understanding that eating disorders affect far more than just the person experiencing them firsthand. 

3. Dietitians

Nutrition is also essential to our multidisciplinary approach to care. Veritas’ team of expert dietitians works closely with each patient to create a personalized meal plan that meets their unique nutritional needs, including restoring normal growth and development when disrupted by the eating disorder behaviors. Dietitians also support patients in challenging disordered behaviors.

Our approach to nutrition also includes parent education and support, hands-on culinary experiences, and supervised restaurant outings to empower patients to develop a more peaceful relationship with food. In our highest levels of care, patients and families can practice navigating mealtime challenges by planning, preparing, and eating meals together in our private family dining rooms. 

4. Families & Communities of Support

Families and communities of support also play a powerful role in a patient’s eating disorder recovery team, particularly as they help a child or adolescent incorporate recovery into their own lives. At Veritas, we involve loved ones in the recovery process through family therapy and multi-family group programming. Families are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively help their loved one transition back to their everyday lives upon discharge.

A Comprehensive Treatment Program: Key to Eating Disorder Recovery  

At Veritas Collaborative, we know that treating eating disorders requires a holistic approach. Our multidisciplinary treatment ensures that each patient receives individualized care from a collaborative team with dedicated experience in treating some of the youngest patients impacted by these illnesses. While the members of the care team have different areas of expertise, they work together to provide the comprehensive, coordinated treatment these illnesses require.

To learn more about the unique medical complications of eating disorders in children and adolescents, please join my webinar, “Not Just a Phase: Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents” on Thursday, April 13th.

If your patient is exhibiting signs of an eating disorder, make a referral today. Early intervention and treatment are key to giving them a less challenging, longer-lasting recovery. 

About the Author

Dr. Anna B. Tanner is Vice President of Child and Adolescent Medicine for Accanto Health, the parent company of Veritas Collaborative and The Emily Program. She is a board-certified Pediatrician who has specialized in the care of complicated adolescent patients, in particular patients with eating disorders, for over 20 years.

Dr. Tanner completed medical school and residency at Vanderbilt University, and then remained there to serve on the Pediatrics faculty in the Division of Young Adult and Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Tanner has been very involved in advocacy and education efforts and serves on national and international committees for eating disorders education. She speaks frequently across the United States on the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders, especially as they affect children and young adolescents, and contributed a book chapter on that topic in the 4th edition of Dr. Philip S. Mehler’s Eating Disorders: A Comprehensive Guide to Medical Care and Complications.

Dr. Tanner currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics for Emory University School of Medicine and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics for Morehouse School of Medicine. She is co-chair of the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) Medical Care Standards Committee and a member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP) Certification Committee Task Force.

Dr. Tanner is a Fellow in the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist, and a Certified Eating Disorders Supervisor. She has been named by Atlanta magazine as a “Top Doctor” every year from 2013 to 2022 and named by Castle Connelly as an Exceptional Woman in Medicine and one of America’s Most Honored Doctors.