F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.

When our D got out of residential treatment we were told she needed to be in plenty of support groups. We lack eating disorder support groups in our area. There was one, but the leader shut it down last month because some members were bringing others down rather than encouraging recovery.
We found a group called Celebrate Recovery. It is a national group and it is for people of all ages suffering from all kinds of struggles. We had to go to a few different meeting before we found one that is a good fit for our D. It is 12 step based, and uses Christian principles. For us, it is a great activity to do on Friday night. It gets D out of the house, helps her see she is not alone in her hardships, and is very uplifting, with testimonies and teachings.
There are chapters for teens, but we do not have one. Our D is 18. I would suggest parents going first without D. We went to one that was mostly men, and not a good fit.
I think that it's wonderful that you found a group that is helpful to your daughter.

When my daughter was in IOP, she was in a 'group', as well. I think that the particular group was useful for her.

Cathy V.
Southern California
If it helps her I think that's great but I would also keep an eye on it because group dynamics change as the people attending the group change.     

Every support group I've ever been a member of has had periods of unwellness.
A dad.

I'm leery of any support group for sufferers.

It takes a very skilled moderator to monitor all the levels of things going on with sufferers:  what is triggering to others, competitiveness, unworthiness ("Am i skinny enough to be here?"), etc.

While it's great to feel that you are not alone in this journey, I think it can be worse to have other sick people around you.  I know that sounds terrible, but:  I'm trying to return my d to her normal self.  Being around other people with AN means that she will identify herself as 'an anorexic'--I want her to understand her limitations but I don't want that to be her identity, if you see what I mean.  Also, EDs have terrible relapse rates.  How does a person feel when their friend has lost a lot of weight?

How do you know what messages will be given out in any given group?   The moderator is likely to be an Old School devotee who will be talking about 'underlying issues' and 'root causes'--and if not, the other members of the group who've had any amount of therapy will.  It's highly unlikely that they will be talking about EDs as biological brain disorders that are causing these emotional difficulties.

There's no way I'd want my d to join an ED support group.

I think groups are really fraught.

Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
Psalm, I am a practicing Christian and could not have gotten through this illness without my faith and the support of many friends and family who were praying for us and with us. I found ATDT after desperately praying to God in agony and asking him to show me a path to help my child. Literally, that afternoon, I found ATDT and this immediately turned our treatment plan around and saved our d's life. I give you this background information so that you know where I am coming from. I don't know anything about Celebrate Recovery so I am not speaking out against them. But, I just want to throw a word of caution to the fact that in my experience, there are many in the Christian faith community who see mental illness and eating disorders in particular as a spiritual failure or an issue of disobedience or sin. I have also seen kids fall even deeper into the hole of mental illness and at risk behaviors after they have publicly talked about it with the kids at church/youth group. I think it just puts so much pressure on them to be living out their struggles in such a public forum. I have heard very respected and famous teachers refer to EDs in this manner and lumping EDs in the same category as any other addiction or worse call them willful and rebellious behaviors. For me, as I know it is for you too, helping my daughter meant putting my faith in action: refeeding her, taking her to therapy, supporting her through maintenance, and being consistent and supportive of her recovery. I did all of this while relying on my faith and trusting that God would help her get well. Thankfully, in my faith circle everyone was very supportive, understanding and willing to learn and be educated. I stayed clear of those who were giving me advice which was contrary to what I knew. Regarding support groups in general, I second Colleen, I would not want my child in a recovery group. The interesting thing is that once our teenage kids are well, they typically move on with their lives and don't feel the need to be in recovery groups.
21 year old daughter who was DX with RAN at 9 years old. The work of recovery is ongoing. 
Having studied the group process in college (which included engaging in research/literature reviews on the effectiveness of groups with EDs), and now as the facilitator for an ANAD peer-to-peer adult (18+) recovery group, I am particularly interested in this thread. I am by no means an expert but am continuing to learn about groups through my experience with our D and interacting with others in recovery. As with many things, it seems to me that groups can be extremely helpful, or not. It's sometimes hard to predict who will do well in a group though I've found that those who have participated in groups before (residential or IOP) know what to expect and can often use their knowledge and experience to help others (which is in itself reaffirming and empowering). We follow recommended guidelines and do not discuss numbers, weights, clothing sizes, or specific ED behaviors. Even with that in place, some people will still be susceptible to triggering and therefore, the group is not a good fit for them at that time. The group is not open - I meet with all participants first to assess their suitability as best I can but things can change once they are in the group. When we were re-feeding our D (19 at the time) I wanted her to try a group but there weren't any in our community. So, when she returned to college in a neighboring state, I decided to offer it (as well as one for Family and Friends).

There are many kinds of groups with different formats/structures. I've met other group leaders whose groups are completely open, drop-in, all types of EDs together (or not), include families/friends etc. A highlight of our week intensive at UCSD was observing a large room filled with adolescents in the IOP program and their families. They openly shared the joys and sorrows of the previous week, and we heard from those children who were ready to move out of the program. We found it inspiring and left wishing we had something like that where we live!

So, I would say that as with any spoke we are thinking of adding to our treatment wheel, we should proceed with caution when it comes to groups while remaining open to the possibility that they may be a positive addition.
"Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible." ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul