Residential Eating Disorder Treatment for Adolescents: When Is It Necessary?

Admitting your child to a residential treatment center can be scary, but it is often a life-saving step in their recovery. If you are considering treatment for your child’s eating disorder, it can help to learn more about the types of care available. For this reason, we’ll walk you through what residential treatment is, what to expect from treatment, and how to know that your child needs this level of care. 

What is Residential Eating Disorder Treatment?

Residential treatment involves round-the-clock eating disorder support. Your child will have therapy groups throughout most of the day. This will equip them with skills to overcome their eating disorder. They will have weekly appointments with an individual therapist and registered dietitian. Your child will have support for all meals and snacks, which are designed to meet their individualized needs. They will also have time to complete their schoolwork. 

Parents are involved throughout the course of treatment and are provided with regular updates. At Toledo Center, parents are also equipped to support their children through our Family Education and Coaching Program

When Does Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment Require Residential Care?

There are five levels of treatment for eating disorders, with each level providing more support than the last. 

  • Outpatient. This includes meeting once per week with a therapist.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP). These programs will provide support for about three hours per day, three to four days per week. This will often include one supportive meal.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP). This level of care can be thought of as day treatment. They will spend most of the day at treatment, including two supportive meals, but then go home at the end of the day.
  • Residential. At this level, clients live on-site and have support for all meals and snacks. 
  • Inpatient hospitalization. Inpatient care is similar to residential but with closer medical monitoring. This level is considered for those with serious medical complications from their disorder.

At the end of the day, the decision to pursue residential care comes down to two aspects: the amount of support they need and their medical status. If your child is having difficulty getting enough nutrients from food during outpatient treatment, they would probably benefit from a higher level of care. This is also true if your child needs regular supervision to avoid purging. 

The other consideration for residential treatment is the amount of medical oversight they need. If they are at high risk for medical complications, they likely need a higher level of care. 

Below are some signs that your child may benefit from residential treatment:

  • Inability to complete meals or snacks without supervision
  • Hiding food or lying about what they ate
  • Inability to eat enough food to maintain a healthy weight
  • Continued use of compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, or use of diet pills
  • Continued use of compulsive exercise or exercising in secret
  • Minimal improvement of eating disorder symptoms at a lower level of care

It can be hard, even scary, to consider admitting your child to residential treatment. Rest assured that your loved one will be treated with compassionate care and evidence-based treatment so that they can come home with a solid foundation of recovery. Our admissions team would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at 419-885-8800 or contact us to get started.

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