if parents are empowered and included, rather than excluded

Some voices matter more than others, so when Thomas Insel - head of the National Institute of Mental Health - talks about eating disorders it gets heard:

"Traditionally, anorexia in adolescents has been viewed as a “family systems” problem requiring a “parentectomy” — exclusion of the parents or caregivers from the teen’s treatment plan. But research at the Maudsley Hospital in London, which was replicated in the United States by Le Grange and Lock, has shown that outcomes appear much better if parents are empowered and included, rather than excluded, from the treatment.iv In fact, a carefully controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a family-based treatment approach found 50 percent of participants continued to experience full remission one year after the end of therapy.v Whether this same approach will work for older patients is not clear, but research is currently underway that incorporates families in the treatment of adults with anorexia. The proof of principle is important: family involvement can be critical for recovery."

Dr. Insel, who was Keynote speaker at F.E.A.S.T.'s symposium in November, offers us so much hope!


  1. It is without a doubt the most powerful weapon against eating disorders. As a parent of a young adult diagnosed at the age of 19, experiencing the treatment community from the side of exclusion of parents from the treatment team, it is a heartbreaking scenario of most often turnstile, revolving door treatment that never quite reaches full recovery.
    I am lucky enough to find some amazingly brilliant committed treatment professional who are at the top of the current evidenced based effective treatment field. Dr O Toole and her team at Kartini, Dr Sarah Ravin in Florida and dr Rebecka Peebles in Philadelphia who see my daughter as a Human being, and individual with anorexia who needs the support of a well informed caregiver. Without this kind of support , recovery is dismal. I know there are some out there who have somehow found their way to recovery without his kind of support but it's cruel and barbaric not to try if it's available.

  2. As a parent of a young adult who had been given the parentectomy approach by clinicians as soon as my daughter turned 18, I applaud Dr. Insel for his stance and leadership letting other mental health professionals know that family based treatment (Maudsley) is more effective for teens than other treatment approaches.
    We were fortunate to have found a FBT to help us refeed our YA D and now work with Dr. Sarah Ravin who truly values parental input/support for full recovery.
    Instead of blaming parents or the sufferer for lack of motivation to recover, including and supporting parents to help them through the refeeding process with accompanying anxiety and distress is absolutely a necessary first step in recovery.
    Sadly, all those clinicians who do "parentectomies" and look for causes/motivation are only fostering longer term illness.
    Seeing the whole family as "human beings" who are able to support one another serves to strengthen them and to foster true recovery, rather than becoming a revolving door of relapse.


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