Here's a dirty little secret about psychotherapy: although it may help, it may also waste your time and money and distract you from what will help. It can also do active damage.

In the case of an eating disorder, there is no time to waste.

Even the American Psychological Association acknowledges that too many clinicians practice "psychoquackery," and it may hurt you: "The profession hasn't shown much interest in the problem of treatments that can be harmful,"

No one wants to talk about this. The mantra is: get professional help. My mantra is: get the right professional help. Interview as many people as you can on the phone before making appointments. Learn the vocabulary and controversies of the eating disorder world and be ready to speak up and ask questions. Trust your bravest parental instincts.

The time and thought you invest early on will be repaid many times later. You deserve to feel good about the care your child is in. Your child deserves the best care you can find.


  1. I think that many people can and do see through quackery! What they may not like is change so they keep paying the quack (or their ins. does) and they continue to use their valuable time at the wrong place. Go ahead and change!
    My daughter failed at therapy but won at regaining a quality of life. Some of us have to do it alone but I wonder how many trust their own instincts on this.

    I'd say one of the qualities I'd want is the ability to challenge. Also someone who's comfortable with discomfort. If they're afraid to make you unhappy then run!
    Another thing is having someone who wants you to get well, not become dependent on them. If they can't let go you're in trouble.

    Yep, I know there are lifers who just like therapy.

  2. It's difficult. When we are the ones choosing for our loved ones whose mental health and judgement is impaired, how do we know whether the side effects are worth it? The side effects of re-feeding can be absolutely terrible (and pretty dangerous) but does that mean it shouldn't be done?

  3. Good point, M. I think parents are not told about the short-term side-effects enough. So it is hard, especially early on, to know whether the bad stuff is temporary or necessary.

    That's where good clinical support comes in: forewarning, and coaching throughout.


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