I have known and worked with Carolyn Costin for over 15 years and consider her as a friend and mentor. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of eating disorder treatment, and has a remarkable gift to provide state of the art care. Without a doubt, the Monte Nido treatment program is my first call residential treatment facility. The beautiful surroundings, the competent and caring staff and the dedication of all who work for Carolyn allows me to know that my private clients are getting the best possible care. In addition I appreciate the cooperative and collaborative approach they take with me, the referring therapist. I always feel included as part of the treatment team.
In addition I would, without hesitation, send a family member to Monte Nido.
As a psychotherapist in private practice who specializes in eating disorders I often need to refer a client for in-patient treatment. My first recommendation when making this type of referral is always Monte Nido.
My experience of working closely with their staff for the past 9 years has given me a great deal of confidence in their ability to treat eating disorders. Their thorough understanding of the complexities involved in the process of recovering from anorexia and bulimia, in conjunction with Carolyn Costin’s unique perspective on healing, offers their clients an opportunity to receive help in an atmosphere where they will given expert medical and psychological care while being treated as individuals who deserve to have their voices heard and their bodies honored. I have worked with many other inpatient and residential treatment programs, none of which, in my opinion, appreciate how nurturing a person’s soul is just as important as addressing the eating disorder behaviors.
While not everyone who enters the doors of Monte Nido may be quite ready to let go of their eating disorder, they all are given a chance to be surrounded by professionals whose intention it is to give them inspiration and a sense of hope that one day they can be recovered and fully embrace their appetites for life’s many delicious treats.
Monte Nido Treatment Center is a safe haven for any individual on the path to recovery from an eating disorder. Within this “mountain nest” my clients have received the individual support, guidance, and nurturing spirit that cultivates a desire to have a more fulfilling life.
Monte Nido is one of the best residential treatment centers, for eating disorders, in the country. The center combines a beautiful natural healing environment with a staff of highly trained experts specializing in treating eating disorders. Monte Nido is unique to all other eating disorder facilities in that it provides an individualized and empathetic approach to helping clients recover. The staff, which consists of professionals and other individuals who have recovered from eating disorders, offers some of the best treatment interventions and techniques to help clients accomplish their goals in recovery. I highly recommended the program to clients and professionals, who are looking for a thoughtful, unique and understanding program, which promotes hope and healing from eating disorders.
I am writing on behalf of Carolyn Costin and Monte Nido. As a registered dietitian specializing in eating disorders, I have known and respected Carolyn Costin’s work for over 20 years. In my private practice, I am often in the position of referring patients to inpatient eating disorder programs. Although I refer to a select number of inpatient programs, when I have a patient whose prognosis is especially difficult or poor, I usually call Monte Nido. I think one of the advantages to this facility is its very small size and very individualized care. In one particular case, Monte Nido was able to help one of the most challenging patients of my career come to terms with her anorexia, bulimia, social and family issues and enable her to return to college and begin the process of normalizing the relationships in her life. I was also pleased to have received interim updates on her progress from her team. The best part, however, was seeing the beaming face of my patient as she went through graduation at Monte Nido. I was not there in person on the day of her graduation, but because Monte Nido graciously called and asked if I would like a copy of the graduation, I was able to see the graduation process and share my patients experience and excitement. That was the first time I had been so included in a patient’s recovery from an inpatient program and I found the opportunity thrilling for both me and my patient.
Carolyn Costin’s workshop at this year’s National Eating Disorders Association conference was all about recovery, gathering strands from current research, feedback from recovered patients and strategies she’s come up with after 35 years of clinical experience. Costin, who herself recovered from an eating disorder, is founder and executive director of The Eating Disorder Center of California and Monte Nido, with centers in California and Oregon.
The session was packed, and it’s no wonder; she is a dynamic, witty speaker with a no-nonsense style born of years of experience in the trenches. Here is a brief summary of her information- and advice-rich talk.
Recovery is when you accept your own natural body size and shape, have a healthy relationship with exercise, and when you won’t compromise yourself to reach a certain number on the scale. Another sign of a return to health is “when you reach out to others for comfort and help, not your eating disorder.”
“Your healthy self will heal your eating-disordered self. In other words, your eating disorder can’t be more powerful than you are, because it resides in you and is part of you. The idea is to integrate the two selves over time. The work of the patient, with the help of a therapist, is figuring out what anxieties and issues the eating disorder is solving, and how to replace the eating disorder with healthier coping mechanism. (I know, easier said than done, but clarity about your objective always helps.)
Costin has patient’s journal before bingeing, because this, she said, “gives access to the part of you that binges.” She also has patients journal about “my last binge,” write a dialogue with their eating-disordered selves, role play, write a thank you letter and then a goodbye letter to their eating-disordered self. She has them write about their worst eating-disordered day, too.
Learn to tell the truth. Don’t say, “I don’t like pasta.” Say, “I’m afraid of pasta.” This is the first step to overcoming the fear.
Eating disorders are both about food, and not about food. While non-food issues (anxiety, trauma) may have helped trigger the disorder, you need to regain a healthy relationship with food in order to recover. Food is the phobic object, and you have to be hands-on with it.
Feel your feelings. Learn “affect tolerance,” or how to live with unpleasant, scary or hurtful feelings, instead of turning to food to mask those feelings.
Find meaning and purpose outside of yourself. “Religion is the bridge to spirituality and too many people get stuck on the bridge.” Eating disorders are the same: the eating-disordered person seeks something larger, but gets stuck in the eating disorder.
Advice for counselors, equally applicable to parents, is: Adopt the attitudes of empathy and constructive curiosity. A supportive, empathetic relationship is crucial to recovery.
Be a positive role model (in other words, “be okay with your own body,” model healthy eating at meals).
Don’t take sides against the eating disorder. Be for the recovery process, not against the eating disorder).
Think in the long term: Those who recover don’t throw in the towel.
Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto are co-authors of The Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders: Supporting Self-Esteem, Healthy Eating & Positive Body Image at Home (www.childhoodeatingdisorders.com)