If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, it’s very important to get her into treatment with an ED specialist right away. It may be necessary to begin with an inpatient approach at a specialty clinic. An ED clinic can evaluate the severity of the problem and recommend an appropriate course of therapy. These centers may be exclusively Christian based or offer a specific program for Christian clients.
For obvious reasons, this therapy will include a strong medical component. A good treatment plan for a person with an eating disorder usually involves weekly appointments with a medical doctor, two or three meetings per week with a certified dietician, and two to four sessions per week with a mental health counselor. The treatment will normally last a minimum of six months. Many patients will need to be hospitalized more than once before switching to outpatient counseling and support.
You’ll also take action to help your child when you:
- Encourage and nurture pursuit of gifting, passions, and healthy relationships.
- Model healthy relationships with God and other people.
- Model healthy problem-solving.
- Model healthy imperfection; embrace failures as opportunities.
- Avoid legalism.
- Manage media.
- Model and nurture a value system that emphasizes spiritual things and spiritual disciplines.
- Make sure fathers stay connected with daughters during and after puberty.
- Nurture and provide emotional support and be comfortable with the child’s sexual development.
Beyond Eating Disorders
It’s important to note that an eating disorder, like alcoholism, is something from which a person never completely recovers. He can learn to cope with the condition and manage it effectively, but there’s a sense in which it never really goes away.
This is why it’s vital to make sure your adolescent with an eating disorder gets plenty of warm, affirming, and nurturing support from friends and family. She needs healthy friendships and relationships with God, family members and other people, and a home atmosphere characterized by a spirit of grace, if she is to manage this issue. It’s also helpful to maintain a regular meal schedule, to slow mealtimes down (twenty minutes at the minimum) and model positive attitudes towards food in every area of life. The road to health may not be easy, but it can be navigated with prayer, persistence, and much outside assistance from friends and helping professionals.