Woodland Forge Welcome Letter to Parents and Families
Woodland Forge Welcome Letter to Parents and Families

Dear Family Member:

As someone who has worked in the field of eating disorders for a long time, I have become acutely aware of how painful it is to have a loved one be affected by an eating disorder. I have had many, many parents call me over the years feeling the sadness that comes with the realization that someone you love is ill.  In addition to these feelings, I heard from parents that they were dealing with an unexpected layer of feelings: panic, desperation, confusion. These feelings were not from dealing with the eating disorder itself but were from the experience of not being able to find available and effective treatment for their children, adolescents, or young adults still living at home.

These frustrations from parents tended to present themselves in four ways. First, parents weren’t able to find appropriate treatment for their child (usually in the case of the patient being under the age of 14, especially 10 and under, or the patient being a boy of any age). Second, their child had already been in some type of outpatient treatment that was “helping with some things” but “not touching the actual eating disorder.” The children continued to exhibit symptoms ranging from restricting, bingeing, purging, picky eating, or emotional eating. The third common frustration was that if their child obtained treatment via a hospital setting, she seemed to make some progress while inpatient only to come home to return to eating disorder symptoms in a relatively short period of time. This happened even if they had aftercare in place. Finally, parents would convey to me that they often felt that they were “not allowed” to be part of their child’s care. They often had no idea what was happening with their child on even a basic level and were not made to feel that they were a valuable member of the team. They felt hopeless and confused.

I used to believe that an eating disorder was something the patient could choose to get out of. I viewed the disorder as a maladaptive coping skill, something like an addiction. Once the patient felt safe enough to talk about the underlying issues, and gain insight and self-awareness they would come around. Now, I believe that anorexia is biologically based and its symptoms are a manifestation of the physiology and psychology of starvation. The anorexic patient needs help to choose to get better, they can not make this committment on their own. The family based model of treatment that we use at Woodland Forge involves parents as an important part of the treatment team to help the patient move toward recovery. Once we are able to "move" the anorexia with proper nutrition, often in a matter of months rather than years, we can get a much clearer understanding of how to treat any pre-existing conditions, usually some type of anxiety disorder.

We will hold your hand through the process and truly help you feel empowered and united as parents to help your child.

I hope by reading this letter you get a sense of our commitment to a collaborative relationship with you, your loved one, your family, and any current team members.

If your loved one is suffering with any type of eating disorder, please contact us. I truly believe we can help.

With Concern and Hope,

Ellen Davis Licensed Psychologist

Ellen Davis, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Co-Founder, Woodland Forge