For services and clinicians, life becomes so much easier when you ally with carers in treatment. Advantages to working more closely with families and carers include

  • Better outcomes for patients
  • Improving clinical job satisfaction
  • Better information for clinician about patient
  • Reduce splitting
  • Treatment effects between sessions
  • Recovery-oriented environment around patient
  • Reinforcing clinical messaging
  • Building a safer community

What can happen to disrupt this alliance with families? We know we often present as anxious and worried at the beginning and you as clinicians can experience that in a range of ways – anger, demanding, vacillating, paralysed, emotionally dysregulated, oblivious and so on. Please remember that how we present when we are presented with the diagnosis of an eating disorder is rarely how we are the rest of the time, perfectly rational and normal families can look insane when your child won’t eat, they look and act like a whole different person, their future has been seemingly hijacked by an alien of sorts. And at worst they may die. Generally we know nothing about eating disorders before our child became unwell and we face a steep learning curve before we can talk the ‘lingo’. We have to feel you are working with us and not pitting the eating disordered child against us – often we are the sane ones in the conversation when our beautiful children are very unwell. Don’t judge us, or we may even feel so vulnerable and guilty that this happened to our child on our watch, we may see judgment where none was intended.

But joining with us in fighting this illness in our children is incredibly supportive, affirming and enables us to continue to find the strength we need.  To find our ‘mojo’ we need to hear from clinicians the following

  • Hope – confidence that their child/loved one will return to the person they were
  • Reassurance they will not lose relationship with child/loved one
  • May need to get tough to get them back – and tough can means tough
  • That what we are seeing in ‘normal – because it looks bizarre
  • Acknowledgement that this is really tough and for many families/carers nothing they will ever do is tougher
  • The quicker the better
  • One bite, one meal, one day at a time – don’t think too far ahead
  • That we as parents/carers have a unique and powerful role to play in getting our loved one well

If you as a service or clinician are interested in having an inservice run by an ‘expert carer’, please contact us to find out what is available in your area. We are also very interested in working with clinicians and services looking to improve they way they integrate families and carers within their setting within the resources we have available.

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