Always Striving for Better: Advocating for Expanded Access to Eating Disorder Treatment
Elouise Cram is a therapist at Veritas Collaborative’s Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. She obtained her MSW from the University of South Carolina in 2020. She was thrilled to join the Veritas Collaborative team in 2022 after working at an eating disorder treatment center in the Midwest. She appreciates bringing the values of curiosity, willingness, and collaboration into her therapeutic approach with adults and adolescents in the Charlotte program. When not at work, she can most likely be found listening to Maggie Rogers or cuddling with her poodle, Poppy.
Every clinician is familiar with the exciting, empowering, occasionally frustrating “rubber hits the road” moments we see in early and sustained eating disorder recovery. We hold space for, push for, and model not just wanting recovery but actively moving toward recovery every day. We are holding space for the people we work with to not just “talk the talk” of recovery, but also “walk the walk” of a recovery-oriented life. When I am struggling to hold both (for myself and for others) of talking and walking at the same time, I’m reminded of a principle of dialectical behavior therapy: individuals are doing the best they can and individuals can always do better.
This principle has been immensely important and applicable not just in my work as a therapist, but also as an advocate for eating disorder treatment. It’s helpful to utilize this reminder when evaluating inclusivity in the programs and treatments we provide. Research demonstrates poor treatment access outcomes for essentially all marginalized populations. From evidence-based treatments utilizing white females with anorexia as their sole source of data to insurance pushback and denials for individuals in larger bodies, the conundrum of who gets early intervention and access to treatment and for how long is a systemic issue. This extends from policymakers to insurers to the providers who diagnose. We need to be both the providers, doing the best we can with the systems in place, and the advocates pushing for better for the individuals working with us.
I see these pushes for treatment access and inclusion happening at Veritas on large and small scales. From consistently challenging ourselves to consider the language we utilize in groups and meals to advocating for single-case agreements with insurance providers, we are always doing, and continuing to do, more. We partner with Project HEAL to provide access to individuals who would otherwise be unable to afford treatment. We collect data on treatment outcomes. As providers, we can also utilize our voices and our knowledge to push for increased access in larger ways, like calling our representatives and legislators in conjunction with state and national eating disorder coalitions. There is so much to be done, and so little time to do it!
I often find myself getting overwhelmed by the immense number of avenues we can pursue to increase treatment access. This overwhelm is partially fueled by excitement, partially by empowerment, partially by frustration – very similar to the “rubber hits the road” moments I get the privilege of experiencing with people in our programs. And in those moments, I find peace in remembering that I am doing the best I can, while always working to do better.