Eating Disorder Treatment for Adolescents

Eating Disorder Treatment for Adolescents

Eating Disorder Treatment for Adolescents

For adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa, it is generally recommended that they receive a weight/refeeding focused therapy as a first line of treatment due to the potential long-term effects of malnourishment at this age. The most common refeeding focused treatments are:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - Enhanced for eating disorders (CBT-E)
  • Family Based Therapy (FBT)/The Maudsley Method 

There are numerous psychology practices in Brisbane that offer these treatments for adolescents. At Exhale Psychology Centre, we do not offer CBT-E or FBT as we were founded as a way to help people who are not a good fit for these first-line therapies.

We might be the right fit for you if:

  • Your child has Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED), or Avoidant Restrictive Feeding Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • You have tried CBT-E or FPT and it was not a good fit for your child or your family
  • Your child is neurodivergent
  • Your child has complex co-occurring issues such as suicidality, self-harm, trauma, mood disorder etc. 

What does eating disorder treatment look like at Exhale?

The recommended treatment for adolescents with an eating disorder is:

  • Weekly appointments with a psychologist
  • Weekly appointments with a GP that has a special interest in eating disorders
  • Weekly-fortnightly appointments with a dietitian
  • If the eating disorder is severe or there are complex comorbidities - periodic appointments with a psychiatrist or paediatrician 

If you need help building a treatment team, your psychologist can help you by connecting you with local specialist GPs and psychiatrists. We also have an eating disorder dietitian at our practice.

The first few sessions will involve an assessment process in which your psychologist will get to know your child and establish what therapy might be the best fit. We can offer the following eating disorder therapies for adolescents:

Parents/carers can be involved in the following ways:

  • Attending an initial appointment (this can be with the child present or not present) and can be done via Telehealth if needed
  • Emailing through initial information to the psychologist

During the assessment process, your psychologist will work with your child to find out which amount of parental/carer involvement they are open to and what would work best for your family.

This will depend on:

  • What the child feels comfortable with
  • The amount of support you as the parent/carer want or need
  • The medical risks involved

It is important to note that unless your child shares something that indicates that they or someone else is in immediate risk of danger everything that your child shares with the psychologist remains completely confidential. As frustrating for the parent/carer as this is, it is the only way our psychologists are able to build trust with their client and have them open up without fear of repercussions.

If you want or need help around how to best support your child, we may provide the following:

  • Periodic sessions with your child’s psychologist (with/without your child present)
  • Regular sessions with your child’s psychologist (with/without your child present)
  • Sessions with another psychologist on our team

To have sessions with your child’s psychologist:

  • The psychologist must feel that the potential benefits of the meetings outweigh the potential risks
  • The meetings must be purely focused on supportive strategies

For parents that want or need minimal involvement but would like to be kept in the loop, your psychologist may periodically put together a treatment summary of recent strategies covered.

Our philosophy involves treating eating disorders through:

  • Client-focused treatment (having the adolescent play an active role in what therapy they want to receive and what areas they would like to work on)
  • Neuroaffirming treatment (also through being client focused rather than therapy manual focused)
  • Non-weight focused - we do not weigh clients, and recommend that weight monitoring only occur when clients are medically underweight. When weight tracking is required, we have a preference for it to be done by the GP and for it to be blind (the client does not see the weight)
  • Size-inclusive treatment - we work with clients at all sizes and are firmly anti-diet and believe in achieving health goals without weight loss 
  • Trauma-informed treatment
  • Addressing the underlying issues (perfectionism, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, depression, anxiety, trauma, etc.) as well as working on the relationship with food and the body

Need help?
We are a psychology centre focused on empathetic treatment of complex mental health issues and eating disorders for adults and adolescents (ages 14+).

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