blogxygen: From Behind Bars, Part XIV

If you've read our family story, you know that my daughter was never in a residential program, so who am I to say, but was my parenting somehow incomplete without doing a ropes course?

blogxygen: From Behind Bars, Part XIV, on Family Therapy


  1. It's more than complete! You did the school of hard knocks, trust our instincts, and stay the course process. There's as much or more ropes in this course than any other. Eating disorders suck and the last thing we need is to make it a contest. Who had the REAL disease? Who lost the most? Suffered the most? When people measure us like this it's ED thinking...nothing more. Life is difficult for everyone at different times. None of us get out unscathed.

    We barely had T. No family T and only a handful of sessions. By some people's standards anyone who beats this in a more timely fashion, on their own, must have cheated or didn't have the REAL disease. Not like them anyway. We know otherwise!
    It took a willingness to change her whole pattern of thinking for my girl. This is the true difficult process and residential or home, it's all inside work...with nourishment of course. It can take a lifetime commitment to honor oneself as we all know how sneaky thought can be. The ropes will always be there to climb!

  2. Well, I didn't have a ropes course. Only twice a week inpatient family therapy in an itty bitty room where I DID cry because my daughter wouldn't open her mouth to talk (let alone eat). I was told more than once I was saying the wrong thing. I was bewildered. I was told they were going to figure out why she stopped eating. (I still don't know and am not sure she does either). I had no support group, or family education or anything of the sort. i was alone for 5 weeks in a strange city.

  3. As a parent-alumnus of Center for Change, we experienced not only the ropes course, but also the opportunity to make little clay figures of "ED the Eating Disorder" in Art Therapy, watch a movie about a soldier in the military with authority issues who was saved by his wonderful therapist, view a TV show about how bad insurance companies are (as if we didn't know already), help draw Venn diagrams on a white board showing the circles of inner emotion and expression, as well as perform lots of yoga and Nia.

    Oh, by the way, there was a little that had to do with recovery from anorexia. For example, the CFC written materials given to parents said: "In order to meet these needs for autonomy, parents need to help their loved ones understand that they know they cannot control her food intake or police her binging or purging habits. Moreover, attempts to control these aspects of her life almost invariably make the eating disorder worse and more difficult to resolve." (Center for Change, Family Resource Guide) Also: "Unless there is endangerment to life, do not shield them from the natural consequences of their eating disorder.... Sometimes the pain from the consequences of engaging in the eating disorder can become a cornerstone of the motivation to let go of it." (Center for Change, "Anorexia and Bulimia, How Family & Friends Can Help") And: "Don't be the food police. Don't give in to the urge to monitor her food intake unless she is physiologically collapsing." (Center for Change, "Dilemmas for Parenting Amid the Social Pressures of Eating Disorders.")

    After a few weeks, we concluded the CFC model of treatment was medically dangerous, naive, lacking in evidence to support it, and grossly overpriced at $1,000 per day. Our daughter made no progress toward recovery there. We removed her early from CFC and shifted to a Maudsley oriented treatment approach that emphasized nutrition above everything else. She recovered fully and is now living a happy and healthy life. Had she stayed at CFC, I doubt the outcome would have been favorable.

    No, Laura, your parenting was not incomplete even though you never had the chance to do a ropes course.

  4. Well, you know, I'm not sure you missed out on much, unless giving your daughter plenty of fuel to make fun of you in a harness counts. :) My mom read my blog, laughing, then said she was a little weirded out I had compared her to a dog walking on its hind legs. I said, "Mom. It's a METAPHOR!!" Anyway, it was good for a laugh, and after surviving the ropes course, my new motto in life is


  5. It's not necessary to do a ropes course. Although I *must* say the experience of seeing my parents on a rope course would be pretty darn priceless!

    The only family therapy I benefited from was from Stephanie, when my mom and I (my dad didn't do therapy very well- he was supportive in his own way) just problem solved. If I was struggling to eat lunch, the three of us would work out a way to help make it easier (or at least make it possible). And my mom and I did need help negotiating a mother/adult child relationship since the project was hijacked by anorexia, OCD and depression.

    I wish everyone had a Stephanie.

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  7. I'd pretty much do anything to help my kids, and I think bonding experiences are great for ALL families, but I don't know whether or why these activities are any more applicable to eating disorders than anything else.

  8. "And my mom and I did need help negotiating a mother/adult child relationship since the project was hijacked by anorexia, OCD and depression."

    Carrie, you have put your finger on the issue between my now 20 year old daughter and myself maybe minus the OCD. I asked (pleaded) with her counselor to do a few joint sessions with us, but she didn't. I wish she had. I think it could have been so helpful to have an intermediary help us talk about the whole experience from our two opposite sides.

  9. Hmmmm

    These U.S treatment centres (as I have said before) are ODD. I think it would almost be more patronizing to parents to do something like a ropes course and make clay figures than talk about issues.

    My program at least had ONE family day which ED patients were not allowed to attend -- it basically summarized the latest research, views of the program, treatment of adult AN/BN etc.

    Once in the program, a therapist would meet with the family if necessary or requested -- not to BLAME the parents OR to talk about the past but to talk about current issues (whatever they may be) that were stopping progress of recovery, etc.

    This just makes more sense than making wax figures. Keep in mind this was an adult treatment program -- so it was different than those that were pediatric.



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