Sunday 3 September 2017
Eating disorder recovery? Is your child 'stuck'? Do they need something to nudge them forward? This solution worked for us, so it might just work for you...
My son got well and truly stuck in the spring of 2011. By this stage he was desperate to recover from anorexia, and he'd done really well since he began working towards recovery back in October 2010. But he'd reached a stage where the eating disorder was just too strong for him.
He'd reached a frustrating plateau, a 'no-man's land' where he was stuck.
Nobody had any suggestions or ideas. Not me, not CAMHS (his eating disorder treatment team), not anyone - and Ben was getting to the 'let's throw stuff around the therapy room' stage, he was so frustrated. I remember the occasion he hurled the coffee table at the psychiatrist before walking out of the room.
Around The Dinner Table forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders), I came across a post from another mum who'd tried out something called a Recovery Contract with her daughter based on something they do at the renowned University California, San Diego, Eating Disorders Centre.
Ben agreed, which was really great because there was no resistance. By this stage he really, really wanted something to help him move forward and so, together, we were able to devise our own version of this Contract and you can find a load of stuff about it on my blog. There is also a dedicated page along with various posts around Easter 2011 (if you click through the archives or download a PDF of the 2011 posts which you can do on this page: https://bevmattocks.co.uk/blogspdfs.html )
If your child is stuck, I wonder whether something like this might work for you, if introduced carefully and gradually? Another reason why my son bought into the idea of the Recovery Contract was because I positioned it as the two of us working together as a team rather than me 'laying down the law'. Also, importantly, by this stage in his eating disorder recovery, I could trust him to be telling the truth (which wasn't always the case earlier on in his eating disorder).
We also made a rule that no-one was allowed to yell, walk out or other nasty stuff during our 'points sessions', as we called them, which was when we'd talk about challenges he'd managed to overcome since we last 'did points'; anything he was having problems with and any new challenges he felt able to take on. If he wasn't successful, then no matter, we could revisit that particular challenge when he felt better able to take it on.
My son says that initially the eating disorder Recovery Contract was all about the cash, but gradually, as we began to see results, it became less about the rewards and more about the recovery. Since he recovered from his eating disorder he has always said that our Contract was the #1 thing that helped him to recover and I completely agree.
If you're at a loss for ideas on how to reignite your child's recovery, then a similar Contract might just work for you? Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to ask any questions about how we went about it, although you can find a lot about it on my spring 2011 blog posts (which can be download in PDF form here).