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What to Expect After Graduation from an Eating Disorder Treatment Center

As people acquire care at eating disorder recovery centers, they build the coping skills they will need to remain recovered after graduation. With these tools, they can withstand the stresses of daily life without relying on disordered thoughts and behaviors as coping mechanisms. They are also better able to stay resilient in recovery from eating disorders and reach out for support whenever it is needed.

Although eating disorder therapists aim to prepare clients for graduation through every step of treatment, they offer additional support as the transition date nears. As clients approach their graduation date, the treatment team begins preparing them to follow their personalized aftercare plan. With this extra level of support, clients can address their challenges and identify ways to remain recovered as they handle real-life situations.

Understanding what to expect before and after graduating from obsessive eating disorder treatment can help clients move through this process with confidence. They can use this guide to start preparing themselves for this important transition and the start of the next chapter of their lives.

Creation of Aftercare Plan as Graduation from Eating Disorder Treatment Nears

An effective aftercare plan acts as a roadmap to remaining recovered while facing challenges as they come. Well before graduating, eating disorder therapists help their clients create a plan that will guide their eating disorder recovery journey after they leave treatment. This provides people with comfort and support as they navigate the demands of their daily lives and handle the stressors that arise.

The aftercare plan speaks to the challenges that may come up in recovery and sets out to identify the healthy coping skills that may help. It also describes the care teams and support systems available after inclient and outclient treatment ends. Aftercare plans should clearly spell out how to access support resources and best make use of them in remaining recovered. They will also tell clients who their aftercare providers will be for their eating disorders and all co-occurring conditions.

Depending on each client’s needs, other areas the aftercare plan may address includes:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Finances
  • Social network stability
  • Family dynamics
  • Parenting
  • Eating disorder triggers
  • Stress management

While remaining recovered, the aftercare plan will play a major role in coping with the ups and downs of daily life after graduating. Clients can refer back to it as needed to explore their options in coping and acquiring support from medical providers, therapists, family, friends, and other important individuals.

Education About Challenges During Transitions from Treatment to Home

While creating the aftercare plan, much discussion will surround the upcoming challenges after leaving eating disorder recovery centers. These challenges range from minorly stressful situations, such as going grocery shopping, to more serious ones, like losing a loved one. Clearly identifying these challenges and linking them with helpful coping skills can assist clients in remaining recovered with confidence.

Although people with eating disorders share many challenges, they may have their own unique difficulties to conquer as well. Eating disorder therapists work with clients to define each challenge as it relates to the person in treatment and their unique journey to becoming recovered.

Challenges identified during this stage may include:

  • Managing strong emotions
  • Facing food fears
  • Mitigating high stress levels
  • Remaining flexible in daily life
  • Staying accountable through mindfulness
  • Reaching out to build and strengthen social bonds
  • Keeping lines of communication open

Clients can sail through the transition home from eating disorder treatment and remain recovered by handling these challenges in beneficial ways. This means using helpful coping skills to get past the difficulties and keep them from causing disordered thoughts and behaviors to return. Before clients can use their skills to handle every challenge ahead, they must identify the ones that will make the biggest difference in each situation.

Identification of Helpful Coping Skills to Use After Leaving Eating Disorder Recovery Centers

Eating disorder therapists help clients dig through their toolboxes of coping skills to match them to potential challenges they may face in remaining recovered. This exercise aids in preparing clients to handle their affairs on their own after leaving treatment. Through this process, they gain the ability to select from the coping skills they have to find the ones that offer the greatest benefits in the moment. Here are a few skills that clients may discuss while preparing to transition home after treatment.

  • Mindfulness Meditation

As learned and relied on during treatment, mindfulness meditation will serve as an important coping tool after graduation from eating disorder treatment near me. This practice combines mindfulness and meditation to help identify daily stressors and cope with the strong emotions that may arise.

  • Journaling

Through regular journaling, graduates from eating disorder recovery centers can keep track of their emotions and the coping skills that work. By compiling this information, they create a personal guide detailing their eating disorder triggers, reactions to stressful situations and the ability to rely on healthy coping skills.

  • Self-Care

Through excellent self-care practices, graduates can decrease their stress levels and better manage their emotions. Self-care looks different to every person, so it is important to identify the practices that apply best. For some, this might look like spa treatments and quiet walks, while others may practice self-care through funny movie nights with friends.

As people move through recovery and experience shifts in their mindsets, the coping skills that help most may change. With this reassessment, clients can determine what will work best as they head home to remain recovered on their own. To make sure they are not truly heading into this process alone, treatment center professionals focus on the social support system next.

Verification that a Strong Social Support System is in Place and Prepared to Help

Social support networks can greatly aid in recovery by providing care through tough challenges and celebrating personal successes as a group. Coming together in this manner ensures that people have the support they need to move forward in their daily lives. This level of support also helps to minimize the recurrence of disordered thought patterns and behaviors.

People in the clients’ lives can also watch for the warning signs of eating disorders and help their loved ones seek help as needed. They can encourage their loved ones to contact eating disorder treatment near me to find the resources that will help them stay on track in recovery.

Since social support plays such an important role in remaining recovered, preparing for the transition period after graduation includes discussions about these connections. The people in the social networks of each client may include friends, family members, neighbors and their peers in treatment. This ensures that people have an extensive network of individuals to rely on in their day to day lives.

Throughout recovery, treatment centers help foster these relationships through family programming, group therapy sessions, and outings with friends and family. This helps ensure a strong social network exists well before people start to prepare to graduate from eating disorder recovery centers.

Transfer of Care to Outside Eating Disorder Treatment Therapists and Other Providers

When people graduate from obsessive eating disorder treatment, their therapists transfer care to outsider providers. These providers help monitor the health and wellbeing of the client as they remain recovered from eating disorders. They also provide treatment for co-occurring medical conditions that were diagnosed during, or prior to, starting their journey toward recovery.

Eating disorder treatment professionals only refer their clients to outside providers skilled in using proven therapeutic approaches. These approaches align with those used at the treatment centers, helping ease the client’s transition from one care team to another. Through this process, clients can expect to receive the same high level of care they enjoyed at the eating disorder recovery centers.

The providers utilize their knowledge and experience to develop and follow relapse prevention strategies for all their clients. People who are remaining recovered can come to these providers anytime they feel extra support is warranted, such as when disordered thought patterns arise.

Introduction to Alumnae Services Provided by Eating Disorder Recovery Centers

Graduates from eating disorder treatment centers can rely on alumnae services for support as well. Eating disorder therapists help their clients learn more about these services as they prepare for graduation.

By accessing the alumnae support services as needed in recovery, clients can stay connected to their treatment center staff and peer through groups and webinars. These onsite groups and online seminars renew motivations to remain recovered as challenges arise. They also offer insightful information and new perspectives that help people stay on track in using their healthy coping skills. Other support services offered to alumnae include:

  • Educational blogs
  • Interesting newsletters
  • Supportive online community groups

Alumnae services go beyond helping the graduate to help their family as well. Family members can log into the online portal as needed to view information in the resource library and access past webinar content.

Follow Up with Care Team to Assess Wellness and Adjust the Aftercare Plan

Depending on their aftercare plan, some clients may need to return to the treatment center a week or so after graduation for a follow-up appointment. At this visit, therapists at eating disorder treatment centers assess how their clients are feeling and discuss their challenges in recovery. As they reveal areas that prove challenging, they can address those factors with an adjustment to the aftercare plan.

This follow-up appointment sets the tone for eating disorder recovery, as it shows clients that they can still benefit from ongoing insights and care from skilled therapists. They learn that they will only receive support, not judgment, in reaching out and sharing the story of their journey. The compassionate response of their care team reinforces that the clients are worthy of care as well.

After this follow-up appointment, eating disorder therapists may send their findings to the outside providers to help them craft their own personalized care plans for their clients. With this level of collaboration, clients can trust that they have the network of support they need to remain recovered for life.

How to Rely on Eating Disorder Treatment Centers to Remain Fully Recovered

Eating disorder treatment centers are always available to help their graduates navigate life after leaving inpatient or outpatient care programs. Their clients can contact them anytime disordered thoughts and behaviors have the potential to return and acquire the help they need in handling those challenges. The eating disorder treatment center staff will use their knowledge to assist clients in pushing past those issues using adaptive coping skills.

All it takes is a single call to the admissions specialists to discuss the client’s needs and find the right level of care. They may suggest using alumnae resources to overcome the challenges or have the care team collaborate to find other options. Clients can trust that they will always receive the guidance and support needed to remain recovered while contacting their care team at eating disorder treatment centers.

Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.