Director of Admissions at Oliver-Pyatt Centers Melissa Spann, PhD, CEDS shares the importance of family therapy in the eating disorder recovery process. She explains how OPC uses Family Friday as a way to bring the family system together in order to aid the client in her journey to recovery.

As the first Friday of the month rolls around, I become increasingly excited for OPC’s Family Friday. I have the incredible opportunity to meet and talk with all of the families who participate in the Family Friday programming. Like most things at OPC, this event began because we saw a need; the event was birthed out of a desire to help provide families with psychoeducation, support and some TLC as their loved one participates in treatment.

Family Friday is it not an easy day to participate in. It begins with psychoeducation talks, information on medical complications of eating disorders and some background on intuitive eating. As the day progresses, family members experience group family therapy and a meal with our dietitians and recovery coaches to experience identifying hunger fullness cues and practices of mindfulness. Finally, we end the day with a family therapy session.

Every Family Friday I take a poll by asking the group of loved ones: “ Who loves family therapy?” As my doctoral degree is in family therapy, I have always been interested in systems work. For the most part, participating in family therapy is not on most people’s Top 10 to-do lists. Family therapy, nonetheless, is an integral part of intensive treatment and certainly a necessary part of the recovery process. It provides the space to explore our emotional experiences with our loved ones so we can feel heard and so we can listen. Family therapy lays the foundations to have our feelings validated by those closest to us. We need to give voice to all members of our family system and allow them space to discuss how our experiences are impacting them. Family therapy is essential in the healing process. We encourage families to use the time while their loved one is in treatment to explore both what’s happening now and the underlying pieces that led to this time.

Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt encourages and mentors clinical staff to push ourselves with the motto: “If not now, when?” This statement provides an overarching theme to family therapy work at OPC: now is the time to have challenging conversations, to explore feelings and to dive deep.

Looking forward to seeing our families next Friday!


For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Oliver-Pyatt Centers is grounded in mindfulness and the belief that each person has the capacity for a mindful relationship with food and their body. Present in every aspect of our program, this philosophy encompasses nutrition and eating, as well as movement, with an emphasis on becoming free from negative habits, behaviors and rigidity. We work from a place of empathy and wisdom, using a medically grounded, psychologically gentle approach.

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