Family-Based Therapy at The Emily Program

Mom and daughter

We offer Family-Based Therapy (FBT) at The Emily Program because we believe that incorporating a client’s family into their treatment will make the individual more successful in their recovery. Family-Based Therapy is an approach to therapy where parents play an active and positive role in their child’s recovery. This teamwork assists in restoring the individual’s weight, empowering them around eating, and helping to establish a healthy adolescent identity.

Family-Based Therapy starts with the understanding that parents are not the cause of their child’s eating disorder and that they can be a major asset in recovery. FBT understands the importance of family and that families are a key component in child development. That being said, families are able to help advocate for change in their child’s behaviors. By playing an active role in their child’s recovery, parents can help their child work through FBT and find lasting recovery.

Phase 1: Restoration of normal weight

The first goal of FBT is to help the client return to an appropriate weight. The client, their parents, and the treatment team will work together with the common goal of restoring weight in the client. During this phase, parents are encouraged to be the leaders of their child’s treatment, planning and supervising meals, and encouraging their child to eat adequately.

Phase 2: Transition of control from parents back to the client

Once a client is able to maintain a healthy weight, parents may begin to take a less active role around eating. During this phase, parents are encouraged to give control over eating back to their child. Some examples of the transition of this control may be allowing a child to eat snacks without supervision. It is important to note that parents may need to reassert control if the client begins slipping into old eating disorder behaviors.

Phase 3: Addressing normal adolescent issues and establishing independence

After the client has restored weight and is able to eat independently, the focus of FBT changes to help the client regain a sense of self. This is where the focus of treatment shifts to identity building and other issues that were not addressed during the earlier phases of treatment. Examples of issues discussed during phase three include body dysmorphia, co-occurring disorders, or any additional factors that inhibit the client from engaging in a healthy adolescent life. During this phase, parents continue to support their child and help their child advocate for themselves within the family.

Family-Based Therapy, while valuable for all types of eating disorders in children, is particularly effective in adolescents with anorexia who have had the illness for three years or less. For this population, recovery rates of those using FBT are 50-60%. This form of therapy is highly effective in promoting recovery and preventing ongoing relapses, which is why The Emily Program continues to offer and host trainings about Family-Based Therapy.

If you are interested in learning more about Family-Based Therapy at The Emily Program, please call 1-888-364-5977. As always, trust your gut. If you believe your child is suffering from an eating disorder, reach out to us today for help or learn more about our adolescent and young adult programming here.

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