February was a BIG month in the eating disorders field. Not only did we have the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP) conference here in Palm Desert, CA, it’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) THIS week! It’s so big it is in 2 months!

In addition to spreading awareness, I believe it’s important to also take ACTION. The theme this year is, “It’s time for change” and that makes me so happy I even changed the day in which this went out this week. (Yes, I also needed to relax this last weekend) 😉 Too many things have remained status quo for too many years. AND (this is the both/and part) it’s also true that some things are finally beginning to change.

For example, in my little corner of this world, the change I work on daily is trying to get the family caregivers the support that they massively need and deserve. This helps them better support their loved one in a calm, compassionate, confident way. That helps improve not only treatment outcomes, but the actual lives of all involved.

Many of you may be aware that it is NOT YET the “Standard Of Care” (usually defined as “clinical practice guidelines”) to include providing support for the needs of the caregivers as part of the treatment of eating disorders. This makes it so easy for insurance companies here in the USA to NOT cover this essential piece of the recovery puzzle. Therefore, for far too long, treatment has not included it since it cannot be paid for by insurance. Thankfully, so many clinicians are seeing the data coming out about improved treatment outcomes when the family caregivers also have support and are now including some family support. Some centers have included some family support for decades and I applaud them and often will tell families about how they’ll get support in these places.

The folks who are supporting the family caregivers are seeing what I’ve been seeing for 20 years;

  1. Reduced distress for caregivers and loved one.
  2. Less treatment drop out.
  3. Reduced relapse rate.
  4. Improved treatment outcomes.
  5. More confidence & compassion in caregivers.

That is just to name the top 5 positive outcomes that come to mind at this moment. I have a page full of research papers and am happy to share. So just message me and I’ll send them to you. For now, here is some research in which Janet Treasure was cited that showed improved patient and caregiver health with skills training. This is from 2015.

More focus on supporting the caregivers is the change I’m pushing for so we can see more positive outcomes for the entire family. One action I’m taking here at Hope Network, LLC toward that goal is in training more folks in the coaching model we’re using. If you, a clinician or coach you know would like to find out more about our Eating Disorder Caregiver Coach (EDCC) Training, let me know and we can chat.

Some of the change makers I saw at IAEDP and actually have photos of have been shared on my FB page – Becky Henry’s Eating Disorder Family Support and Instagram. It was a delight to see Dr. Sarah Ashly Robbins from the Gaudiani clinic presenting on Mast Cell Activation Syndrom (MCAS)! It’s always a joy to see Stephen Reeder who is now practicing in Colorado in addition to CA (both virtual for now). And having some laughs and geeking out on ed science with Signe Darpinian always makes me smile.

As always, reach out for info on caregiver support resources. We have Affiliate & Subscription options for both the HUG Kits and the Recovery Roadmap Specialists (RRS) video series and worksheets that individuals and clinicians can utilize.