If your teen is struggling with an eating disorder, Seeds of Hope can help. We welcome teens of all genders in our adolescent and teen programs, which are offered in person in our Paoli location. Learn more about signs of an eating disorder in teens and our treatment approach. See if our programs are a good fit for your son or daughter.
Does My Son or Daughter Have an Eating Disorder?
One of the biggest questions on parents’ minds is how to tell when their child has a disorder. Is picky eating actually Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)? How can you tell if your daughter is purging after meals? Why is your teenage son not hungry?
There can be other explanations for troubling behavior. For example, loss of appetite can be a symptom of depression or anxiety. However, if your child is severely restricting food intake, compulsively exercising, purging through vomiting or laxatives, regularly binge eating or preoccupied with weight, he or she may have an eating disorder.
Learn more about specific types of eating disorders in our Education Center.
How Can I Help My Child with Bulimia, Anorexia, or Another Disorder?
If you think your son or daughter has an eating disorder, seek advice from a medical professional right away. The earlier treatment begins, the better outcomes your child will have. Untreated eating disorders can lead to a wide range of complications.
Your pediatrician or family doctor can help you search for the right treatment solution. You can also contact Seeds of Hope directly and we can schedule an eating disorder evaluation to see what type of treatment your son or daughter needs.
Is Outpatient Treatment Right for Your Teen?
Our adolescent eating disorder programs are open to teens ages 14 to 18, however we do admit clients ages 12 and 13 on a case-by-case basis. Outpatient treatment is appropriate for teens who:
- Are medically stable
- Have appropriate support at home
- Are motivated to participate in their recovery
When you schedule your first appointment, our trained clinicians complete an assessment to determine whether this program is a good fit for your teen.
About Our Teen Treatment Programs
We offer teen eating disorder treatment in two levels of care:
- Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
- Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
If an eating disorder is interfering with your child’s daily life, a partial hospitalization program may be the best fit. This is a full-day program that runs Monday through Friday for 6 hours each day.
Intensive outpatient treatment is a lower level of care than partial hospitalization. IOP can help in the early stages of an eating disorder. It is also ideal for teens who have completed higher levels of care such as inpatient or residential and are looking for further support in recovery. IOP runs Monday-Thursday for 2 hours and 15 minutes per day.
About Partial Hospitalization for Teens
Despite the name, partial hospitalization is often conducted in outpatient eating disorder clinics. It consists of intensive, highly structured programming during the day. A major benefit of PHP is that your child can return home at night rather than staying in a hospital.
Our teen PHP program uses a variety of eating disorder interventions, including:
- Group and individual therapy using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and other evidence-based techniques
- Twice daily meal practice with support from clinicians and dietitians
- Family therapy and eating disorder education, including weekly family support groups
- Medication management as needed
- Expressive arts therapy, such as music, art and expressive arts
- Holistic practices such as yoga, reiki and meditation
Please see the sample PHP schedule below to get an idea of how your child’s day will be structured in treatment.
Expressive Arts Group
About Teen IOP for Eating Disorders
Intensive outpatient treatment uses similar techniques to partial hospitalization. However, the program only meets for a total of nine hours each week. This allows your child to maintain much of their normal routine while attending treatment.
Our clinicians create an individualized treatment plan for your teen that sets treatment goals to work on throughout the program. Adolescent IOP includes a weekly family night for parents and other loved ones in the child’s support system.
After your teen has completed treatment with Seeds of Hope, they can participate in our ongoing outpatient group. Alternatively, we can refer your child to an outpatient treatment provider in your area.
Learn more about our admissions process, or contact us to schedule an appointment for your child.
Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Eating Disorders
Still have questions about eating disorders? Learn more about this mental health condition.
How Can I Support My Daughter/Son with Bulimia/Anorexia/Binge Eating/ARFID?
Educate yourself on your teen’s eating disorder and participate in any family therapy sessions your treatment provider offers. Talk to your child and their therapist about the best way to support recovery at home. This may involve helping your child create or stick to a meal plan, avoiding comments on weight or appearance, and continuing to attend family therapy sessions.
Why Do Children Become Anorexic or Bulimic?
Eating disorders are complex illnesses and researchers don’t fully understand why they develop. There are a variety of factors that play a role: genetics, environment, personality, and stressful life events can all contribute to eating disorders in children.
How Much Should a Teen Weigh?
There is a lot of variation in healthy weight depending on height, age, and other factors. Talk to your pediatrician about a healthy weight range for your son or daughter. Also keep in mind that eating disorders can develop in people of any weight — even those who are average or above average.
How Do I Prevent Purging?
Purging is common in individuals with bulimia nervosa or the binge eating/purging type of anorexia. As a parent or guardian, you are understandably concerned about these behaviors and want to know how to stop them. Avoid punishing or confronting your child about purging. This will only make them feel worse.
Instead, gently voice your concerns about the behaviors you’re noticing. Take your child to the doctor or have them evaluated for an eating disorder. Medical professionals trained in eating disorders can get to the root of the behavior and teach your child about healthy ways to cope with triggers.
How Do I Get My Child to Stop Overeating?
If your child frequently overeats, try to find the root cause. Repeated episodes of overeating are one of the symptoms of binge eating disorder. Speak with a pediatrician or eating disorder specialist about your concerns.
Even if your child is not diagnosed with an eating disorder, be careful how you speak to them about their food intake. Binge eating may cause immense shame and guilt. Scolding or punishment increases the sense of shame and can fuel more of these binge eating episodes.
Why is My Child Not Eating?
If your son or daughter is not eating as much as usual, refuses to have meals, or insists on eating alone, these could be signs of an eating disorder. However, they could also be symptoms of another medical condition. You should talk to your child’s doctor to rule out any other causes.
Can a Child Grow Out of an Eating Disorder?
Children cannot grow out of an eating disorder. This is a serious medical condition that requires professional attention. If left untreated, an eating disorder will become worse and lead to harmful physical effects, or even death in severe cases.
Can a Child Under 12 Have Anorexia, Bulimia, or Another Eating Disorder?
Children aged 11 or younger can develop eating disorders but it is not as common. However, the rate of eating disorder hospitalization for children under 12 has grown 72% from the years 1999-2000 to 2008-2009.
What Age Do Eating Disorders Start?
Eating disorders usually start anywhere from ages 12 to 25. Sometimes a major life event, like going through puberty or starting college, triggers an eating disorder in an individual who is already prone to the condition.
If your child is not in treatment, it’s important to contact a treatment provider as soon as possible. The longer these disorders go untreated, the more serious the health consequences can be. Eating disorders can cause damage to almost every organ in the body, including the heart, lungs, brain and bones. Women may experience infertility and are especially prone to osteoporosis later in life after struggling with an eating disorder.
Don’t wait to get help for your child – reach out to Seeds of Hope today by calling (610) 644-6464.