How to Prepare for Inpatient Eating Disorder Treatment

When individuals diagnosed with eating disorders and their families first learn about inpatient eating disorder treatment, they often wonder how they will navigate such a comprehensive treatment program. Those struggling with eating disorders may question how difficult it will be to go live at a treatment center for an extended period of time. Their families may be concerned with the length of separation that is about to occur and question whether their loved one will be properly cared for. But when those diagnosed with eating disorders and their families have the opportunity to talk over the eating disorder inpatient process with a treatment professional, their concerns are usually alleviated. Once they understand just how much can be accomplished in inpatient treatment centers—including developing a positive relationship with food and learning to live a fully recovered life—the concerns can quickly transform into the question, “Where can I find inpatient eating disorder treatment near me?”

As exciting as the future of living a fully recovered life can be, it is important for patients and their families to focus on making the transition from regular life to going to inpatient eating disorder treatment as smooth as possible. There are things that patients and their families can do to ease the transition and prepare themselves for the learning and growing that lies ahead. As they prepare for the upcoming eating disorder inpatient treatment, they can become more comfortable with what the future weeks and months ahead will hold for them. They can ensure that the upcoming treatment is a positive experience for everyone.

Preparing for Eating Disorder Treatment—What You Need to Know

There are numerous inpatient eating disorder treatment centers available for various groups throughout the country, which means that the experience of each individual can vary depending on which of the inpatient treatment centers one goes to. However, even with the variations in treatment programs, there are many commonalities that one can expect from an inpatient experience. It is possible to prepare for inpatient eating disorder treatment regardless of what particular treatment center one will attend.

The following information is meant to serve as a general guide on how to get ready for a stay at a residential treatment center. While much of it should be useful to most upcoming residents, it is important to talk directly with the treatment center one will be attending to fully understand what to expect and how to properly prepare. It is recommended that every individual planning on attending a residential treatment program contact their program as soon as they decide to attend so they can get detailed information on what they need to do to get ready for their stay.

1. Understand what makes residential treatment different from other treatments one may have participated in before.

Many people who enter inpatient eating disorder treatment centers already have experience with some type of eating disorder treatment. They might have searched for inpatient eating disorder treatment near me and found a variety of treatment options available to them, not all of which were actually inpatient treatment. They may have participated in individual or group sessions with a therapist. Sometimes they have attended an outpatient eating disorder treatment program, which is a structured program where the patient attends treatment several times a week and goes home at the end of treatment to live their day to day lives. All of these types of treatment offer significant benefits to those trying to change eating disorder behaviors, but there are significant differences between them and inpatient treatment centers.

Eating disorder inpatient treatment is an immersive type of treatment where the patient lives at the treatment center for an extended period of time, sometimes 30 days, sometimes for several months, sometimes more. The length of stay all depends on the needs of the patient. Being immersed in treatment for multiple weeks or months is quite a different experience than visiting a therapist once or twice a week. While many new residents worry that the process will be intimidating, they soon discover that it can be quite comforting to know that one has the time to recover without needing to rush.

Inpatient treatment is the most comprehensive type of treatment available for those seeking recovery from eating disorders. When one realizes that they are going to participate in such a transfor11mative program, it can bring peace of mind and possibly even a little excitement. There is no better place to learn how to change eating disorder habits.

2. Talk to the treatment center about what to expect.

Treatment centers are staffed and run by passionate professionals who understand eating disorders better than just about anyone out there. They are dedicated to helping patients recover, which means they are certainly interested in sharing the details of their program and ensuring that upcoming residents have the information they need to feel welcome and prepared for what they are about to participate in. They will not consider questions about the program or what to expect a bother. In fact, they will welcome such questions. They are there to help and they understand better than most how entering a residential program can be a little stressful for new people. The treatment center staff will be highly motivated to ensure that new residents have all the tools they require to get the results they want.

Most treatment centers will send an information packet to upcoming residents for review. The information packet should contain all the fundamental information that one needs to know about the program that they are going to attend. However, it is certainly possible for one to have questions beyond what is presented in the information for new residents. When patients or their families have questions, it is important for them to contact the treatment center for clarification. Someone should be able to explain anything that is unclear and provide whatever information the upcoming resident needs.

3. Know what questions should be asked of any treatment facility.

It can be a little overwhelming to try and gather all the information one might need for a treatment program for those who are new to such treatment. There are some questions that most patients and their families should ask of any treatment center they are planning on attending. These include:

  • How long should the patient expect to be participating in the program?
  • What are the residential accommodations like—such as whether they are single occupancy, are there shared bathrooms or private bathrooms, etc.?
  • How often can the resident expect to be able to visit with loved ones?
  • What are the types of therapy offered at the facility and what types of therapy will the resident be participating in?
  • What is a day like at the facility for residents?
  • What should the upcoming resident bring with them to the facility?
  • How does the staff at the facility measure progress in the program?

Depending on the individual and the program they are attending, they may have more questions that are specific to their circumstances. For instance, some programs are female only, teen and adolescent only, men only, etc. If the program is serving a specific group, those attending might want to verify exactly how the process works—like if it is a program for women, does that mean that all the staff will be women as well?

It can be helpful to write out a list of questions beforehand, possibly over a period of days while the upcoming resident and their family ponder the treatment program. When they feel like they have a comprehensive list of questions, they can contact the program to get the answers they seek.

4. Make sure the upcoming resident gets to ask questions.

Often, the one who is attending an inpatient eating disorder treatment program is being helped by loved ones to research and plan the process of entering the program. Sometimes the upcoming resident is a younger patient, such as a teen or an adolescent. When it is the family doing the planning, it can be easy for the family to get caught up in the planning process and forget to include the one who will actually be attending the program.

Whoever is going to be attending the program should have the opportunity to ask all the questions that they want to ask, preferably directly to the treatment center staff. They should be encouraged to create their own list of questions that they can then ask the treatment center staff. By ensuring that the one who is attending the program gets the information they want and need, the family can ease the transition to the residential facility. By encouraging the upcoming resident to speak with the staff they will be interacting with later, the family can help the individual feel more comfortable with those that will treat them. Questions and conversation can be a wonderful ice breaker for the upcoming stay.

5. Take a tour of the residential treatment facility.

Asking questions and getting answers is a great start, but one of the best ways to make an upcoming stay at a residential treatment center more approachable is to take a tour of the facility in person. By walking through the facility and meeting some of the people that will be caring for the resident, both patients and families can gain a much clearer understanding of what living at the treatment center will be like and how it will be to interact with those who staff the facility. A tour may not completely eliminate the apprehension that comes from embarking on any new endeavor, but it will significantly alleviate the feeling of going into the unknown.

6. Talk about what to do when challenges arise.

Eating disorder treatment can present challenges that are sometimes difficult to manage. It is understandable that such challenges would arise. After all, if it was easy to recover from an eating disorder, treatment programs would not need to exist. But the reality is that becoming fully recovered takes some effort and may not be a straightforward path with no obstacles. Sometimes patients want to leave treatment. Sometimes they do not want to participate. All of these reactions are normal and can be managed if the patient, family, and staff work together.

Since challenges are to be expected, it can be helpful to discuss a plan for how the patient and their family will handle such challenges when they arise. The plan that one family comes up with might be different than the plan another family comes up with. Whether the plan is perfect or not is not important. What is important is that all those involved have talked over what may come up and have agreed on how they will try to act when such circumstances arise.

When a patient and family have a plan for dealing with challenges, it can be useful to discuss the plan with the treatment center staff to get feedback. The staff has seen many patients overcome similar challenges and will have a very good idea about what works and what is less effective.

7. Be dedicated to recovery and patient for its achievement.

It can be appealing to try and rush through the recovery process because patients and families just want to get back to leading the lives they want to lead. However, it is necessary to recognize that recovery can take time and possibly may involve a few frustrations before the goal is achieved. It is a good idea for patients and families to be dedicated to recovery—because it can take continuous effort to get there. But it is also a good idea for them to be patient. Participate in the program, do their best and trust that they will get there.

Find Treatment for Eating Disorders

If you would like more information on inpatient treatment centers for you or your loved one, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and ensure that you get the help you need to start down the path to full recovery.