I've just been incredibly inspired by a thread on the Around the Dinner Table Forum about Recovery Contracts. Why has no-one in our treatment team suggested something like this, I wonder? They sound like a really workable idea at this stage in Ben's recovery! It is SO IMPORTANT that, having been in Limboland for a few weeks, we move forwards in a purposeful way. I already laid the cards on the table, so to speak, at CAMHS on Friday re. my Plan for the next few months. As a way of implementing my Plan, setting up a Contract seems like a great idea - and Ben thinks so, too. (Thus far...)
Basically the idea is that, at various stages of recovery, you draw up a written 'contract' which you stick to until the time comes to review / revise it. Certain parameters and goals are set out which need to be achieved within agreed time frames. When the eating disorder sufferer sticks to elements of the contract they earn 'rewards' e.g. in the form of 'points' which add up to a worthwhile reward (not food and preferably not cash). As the thread suggests, it could be a sleepover at a friend's house, a trip out or whatever it is that 'floats your teenager's boat'. When they don't stick to the Contract, you agree a list of consequences (removal of iPod, no sleepover or whatever it is that your child would hate to be without!)
Obviously the aim is to drive forward with continuous momentum towards an end goal and prevent what I call 'pussyfooting around' with an unclear, vague or non-existent plan. Having it all typed out on paper, too, is so much better than verbal agreements which can be quickly forgotten (or denied!).
Also, particularly in our situation, a written Contract is a good talking point so I can regularly review progress with Ben. We do this anyway, but having the Contract will be a useful reference tool.
My ultimate aim is to get Ben to consistently increase his weight, within the recommended guidelines, and avoid relapses or slips. Also, to curb any compulsive exercise.
Looking back over the past 6 months, we have had ENORMOUS improvements in virtually every aspect of the recovery process EXCEPT weight gain (and the exercise issue). I REFUSE to do the same for another six months - the time has come for Ben to put on some serious weight. Slowly but most definitely surely otherwise I will take a tougher stance...
I have yet to draw up our own Contract, but obviously the idea is that you personalise it to your situation and where you are on the recovery ladder.
Watch this space...