Childhood and adolescence is a common time for eating disorders to develop. While children and adolescents are often diagnosed with the same eating disorders adults are diagnosed with, the way these eating disorders present and are treated is significantly different. Children and adolescents with eating disorders need treatment that is tailored specifically to them. In most situations I utilize Family Based Treatment (FBT) and work with the whole family to support healing from the eating disorder. There are times when FBT is not the best option in a particular situation, and then I typically turn to individual therapy that focuses on the specific needs of the child or adolescent.
While I recognize that there is no one thing that causes eating disorders, there can be contributing factors. Things such as weight stigma, weight loss due to illness or increased activity, health classes, etc., can all be contributing factors for eating disorders. When I work with children and adolescents with eating disorders we not only focus on addressing the eating disorder, but building resilience for navigating difficult situations without the eating disorder.
Diet culture impacts all of us and is everywhere. Living in diet culture makes recovering from an eating disorder harder and children and adolescents need tools for how to cope with all the triggering messages they will be exposed to. I work from a Health at Every Size(R) framework to help children, adolescents, and their families to develop the skills needed to recognize the harm in diet culture and learn ways to disengage from participating in it.
Working with children and adolescents with eating disorders requires teamwork. I view parents or caregivers as an important part of the team, which may also include a dietitian and physician. I will coordinate care with all members of the team and make sure that we all work together to support the adolescents recovery.