There's a rather bruising debate going on at an eating disorder professional listserv right now about Family-Based Maudsley treatment and working with the parents of patients. I find it disheartening and sad when some clinicians resist learning newer ideas - just learning about them - and express defensiveness instead of curiosity.

But then there are moments in my day that remind me that we all have the same goal: better, faster, safer recoveries. I had one of those moments when I read one of the bios just added to the Treatment Directory on the new F.E.A.S.T. site:

"I have been in the field of EDs for 15 years. I was trained as a CBT therapist, but have expanded my treatment to include family based treatment. As a result of working with families, I have watched the recovery rates of my patients triple. Working with families is rewarding and extremely effective in treating these deadly illnesses and I am shocked at how few clinicians utilize families in their treatment. Families do make all the difference!"

It's not about making parents feel better. The point of working with parents is to help the patients recover.


  1. Hi Laura, please do you a link to the debate you cite in the first paragraph of this post?

  2. I wish I could, Cathy! I think the wider world of eating disorders would benefit from seeing this internal debate. But the listserv is private among the members of the AED and I can't share the content.

    Suffice it to say that tempers are high and science literacy is variable. Yet I'm pleased to see the conversation happen as 'sunlight is the best disinfectant.'

  3. The comment from the clinician in the FEAST Treatment Directory is wonderful! I hope he/she shares that increased success rate and the reason for it with his/her therapist peers.

  4. Just to be curious - do those debating have a clue as to what "Maudsley" really means? If they think they do I'll tell them they're wrong because it means more than one thing depending on who's defining it.

  5. I'll give a prize to ANYONE who can define Maudsley - it has as many meanings are there are users, as far as I can see. It's very annoying!

  6. I would give my right arm to be a lurker on that listserv. You are sooooooooo lucky Laura. You get to know what the professionals really think. :P

    Just saying!


  7. "It's not about making parents feel better. The point of working with parents is to help the patients recover."

    While I agree that the ill person is the primary person of concern, that ill person is almost always a part of a 'family system'. The whole family falls ill (in a sense) and suffers when a loved one is fighting a demon such as an eating disorder.

    I think it IS about healing the whole family as well. Families are a system...a whole gestalt. I said many times I would feel whole again..truly better, when my daughter was. If things hadn't turned out as well as they did...she'd stayed ill for years or, god forbid, she'd died, I would have somehow lived life with a huge scar and eventually moved on. But, I do believe, that by working with parents, by including parents, by USING parents as instruments to wellness, everyone heals. Being allowed to be an active participant rather than a passive bystander is very powerful medicine indeed.

  8. Lisa aka cookinMom8:21 AM, November 03, 2010

    Hi Laura! I'm going to TRY to comment...let's hope it works this time.
    I heard a fantastic ad on the radio...actually thought it was going to be about EDs! It was for Depression, but without a hitch, the words "Eating Disorders" could have fit.
    It went something like, " When someone has Cancer, we don't tell them to 'Get over it!'. Or we don't tell somebody with Diabetes that 'Its your fault'....etc. So why do we treat another life-threatening illness that way...?"
    Then onto the real facts re: Depression.
    I hope to hear ads about EDs like that any minute!
    Love your blogging, btw!
    Lisa xxx


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