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

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Hello All,

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has participated in the UCSD one week intensive program. Did you find it helpful? Would you recommend it? Thanks to everyone on this site for the encouragement and advice you give!
Hi bobcat,

If you type it into the search box on the top left of the computer version or use the panel on the right of the phone version, you will be able to find recent threads discussing it.

It has almost universally been helpful to those who have attended and a real game changer for many families.

Warm wishes,

2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
Hi bobkat,

Our family went to the UCSD 5-Day Family Intensive program several years ago, with our then-17 year-old d.  It was definitely the 'light switch' moment for both my h and my d, and our family journey with ED made rapid strides towards wellness following it.

It was intense...no getting around that.  And our d had been ill for 3 years, and we'd been muddling along with inadequate professional support, and frankly not an evidence-based one at that.

We made a decision to go, & were there to start a session within 2 weeks.  It was a big scramble to get blood work and other testing completed, make travel arrangements and worry about whether we could actually get our d on the plane.

We hit the ground running, as the therapists in the UCSD program connected with our FBT T (new one we engaged before the program) beforehand, and had an idea on starting point that was geared for our particular family situation.

The program gave us skills and tools to use with our d, and perhaps most importantly, the confidence that we could help her into strong recovery.  We have never looked back.  A few bumps here and there as we moved forward, and as our d transitioned to university, and beyond, but nothing earth-shaking.

I know every family's journey is different, but for our family, the UCSD program was a life-saver.  I had the great good fortune to meet up with one of the program therapists this past spring at FEAST's one day seminar, FEAST of Knowledge, in Chicago.  She is still working with the program, and is as caring and compassionate as I remember.  We chatted briefly, she said she remembered our family, and was pleased to hear that my d is a successful student in grad school.  Kind of a full-circle moment.

If you have questions about the program, I'm happy to answer with my experience of it.  I know there are a number of others who would be happy to answer as well.

Sending warm support,
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
Hi. I am usually a lurker and only pop in occasionally as my D is fully recovered (and has been for several years now).  But, we DID go to UCSD in the summer of 2015, and I credit that week with getting us over the last hurdles to full recovery (she had been ill for two years when we went....mostly recovered, but with some behaviors that still lingered).  With ED, you've to to get rid of every last ED behavior, and we were stumped at how to get there.  So we signed up for the one week program, and it was worth every.single.penny and every single bit of time we invested (we are from Minnesota, so flying there and staying there was not an inexpensive proposition for us, in addition to the program cost, which was mainly but not entirely covered by insurance).  The intensive focus was worth it.  We had been doing FBT for two years, so none of that was "new" to us, but the chance to have professional guidance at meals and snacks for 5 days was very worthwhile.  And, the contract we left with was worth it's weight in gold.  

My D is now 18.  Spent the summer in Germany on a 6 week trip, and is now away at college....maintaining her weight and living her life beautifully.  She has a long time boyfriend.  She's happy.  Our relationship (sorely tested in the early days) is magnificent.  UCSD shares credit for getting us there.
D, age 18, first diagnosed March 20, 2013, RAN, at age 13 Hospitalized 3 weeks for medical stability. FBT at home since.  UCSD Multi-family Intensive June 2015. We've arrived on the other side.  :-)  D at college and doing great!
Thank you so much to all of you who have replied. I appreciate the input. It is informative and has provided hope.
We took our daughter to UCSD's IFT program in late January/early February 2017.  It saved our daughter and our family. 

I posted this on a previous thread about UCSD...some of it may be irrelevant to your situation.  Hope it can answer any questions you may have about UCSD's IFT program.


Our family attended the IFT program at UCSD one month ago (January 30-February 3, 2017).  I told our daughter as soon as I knew we found out we could go.  We had looked into this treatment program at the end of October when her weight reached 95 pounds.  She had previously gone through an eating disorder treatment program from January through March 2016 (started at 116 in December 2015, discharged at 111 in March of 2016).  This illness entered our family on 12/31/2015.  She had gone through PHP/IOP and upon discharge, she maintained weight for a very short time; then slowly lost one pound here another pound there.  Anyway, I found UCSD on Facebook at 2am one night when I couldn't sleep.  I had gone into d's room to check on her because her weight was so low I was worried about her heart and breathing (she has a low heart rate anyway because she is athletic/dancer).  Anyway, it didn't work out with insurance and we put UCSD on the back burner.  Her weight continued to decrease and I found a post on Facebook from an organization called ProjectHEAL.  A family had documented their journey with ED and UCSD in a weekly blog on ProjectHEAL's FB page.  I caught the first installment.  One thing that continually went through my head was - is one week enough?  Is it REALLY enough to make a difference and turn this thing around.  The mother of the girl responded to that question I posted and she ended up calling me on Thanksgiving.  She encouraged me to fill out a scholarship application for treatment.  I will spare the details but several days after Thanksgiving we were awarded a treatment grant from ProjectHEAL.  I was thrilled, overwhelmed and beyond blessed.  Which is why I told our daughter when I found out.  But we had discussed this treatment facility as an option a few weeks prior.  The reason I wanted to check it out was in part due to school.  When d was in PHP/IOP, she missed a full quarter of 10th grade.  It was very stressful to come back to school in mid-March.  The treatment program only allowed for one hour of schooling each day and the teacher's level of schooling (in our daughter's case) only taught at a 9th grade math level - our d was in 11th grade honors math :/  Her school gave her very little while she was in treatment which was difficult to come back to.  Lots to make up and to come back and slide right it where everyone left off.  It provoked much anxiety.  UCSD is one week.  It's one week away from school which as a Junior was still tough BUT it was the least disruptive to our family's lives/schedule.  She was adamantly opposed to returning to a PHP/IOP program.

In regard to school, our d's teachers only knew she was absent for medical reasons.  Her guidance counselor has been in the loop since day one.  This was helpful because the guidance counselor could address teachers, help to get any assignments (this time with UCSD since we knew well in advance we were able to get some school work before we went), and be the go-between with the teachers  and attendance office.  Her absence was coded as "medical" for UCSD and therefore doesn't "count" against her and some school work was excused without having to make it up.  I will say if you haven't; you may consider approaching your daughter's guidance counselor at school.  Lunch will be an issue for you when you return.  Our daughter has lunch monitored in the nurse's office (the school nurse knows of her situation as well).  With the contract at UCSD, all meals/snacks must be monitored by an adult.  Of course, school presents challenges.  Our d is very low weight and if we wanted this method to work, we knew she'd have to return to lunches in the nurses office.  Not the greatest at 16 (almost 17 years old) but she's accepted it.  You will learn with the contract that it can be revised every 2-4 weeks.  We said once she shows she's making progress, we can incorporate maybe 1-2 lunches a week back in the cafeteria with her friends.  We are there yet but getting close. 

As for the logistics of the program, we stayed in a house about 15 minutes away from the Children's Hospital.  Traffic wasn't bad in the morning and took us at most 20 minutes each day.  We chose a house for several reasons:  one, it was less expensive than the Residence Inn in La Jolla, two, it allowed us to cook breakfast and dinner (eating out is a HUGE issue for our daughter), three, everyone had their own bed - which was important for a good night's sleep.  Our son was with us too (he's 12) and instead of the two sharing a bed and going through the LONG days at treatment - it was helpful that all could retreat to their own space.  I looked on VRBO, HomeAway and ended up finding the little house on La Jolla Vacation Rentals.com (I think that was what it was called).  We stayed in Ocean Beach which was an interesting/eclectic little area.  There's a dog beach about 10 minutes away and a cute little area with shops/dining in the general area of the dog beach.  The airport was also only like 10 minutes away.  Overall, it was a good location - close to airport, downtown. 

We flew in on the Saturday before treatment started so we'd have part of the weekend to visit San Diego and flew out the Saturday after treatment (early AM flight - wished we'd have left later to do more site seeing things).  Samira at UCSD said many people fly in the Sunday before and/or fly out the Friday afternoon of treatment or the following day. 

We didn't deal with any behavioral issues from our daughter and our son was thrilled to miss a week of school (we also told his guidance counselor our reasons for him missing to medically excuse his absence.  UCSD will provide you a letter for the school - just ask Samira about it).  Since we knew about it two months prior, we just kind of let things be with the anorexia.  Meaning, we didn't make any changes to what she was eating or how she was eating because we knew that changes would come with UCSD.  The treatment program she went through gave us a meal plan and a booklet that provided sort of a "diabetic exchange" method - 1/2 cup of veggies equals one serving type of thing.  Not a fan.  Basically we were arming our anorexic with the knowledge of counting calories with this method and what 16 year old measures out one cup of Rice Krispies and one cup of milk everyday (was not happy with the treatment program she went through - it got weight on her but barely had parental involvement and many things she wanted to talk about she couldn't because they were triggers for other patients...then how do you get better??).  Going into our week of IFT, know that it will be a HARD week.  Harder for some than others.  There are between 4-6 other families there with you.  You will form a bond with those people and it truly does help to see that others struggle with this too.  I will not lie - it can be heartbreaking at times.  They make your child eat.  As strange as that sounds, think about it.  They've been avoiding eating and now this Maudsley Method tells you to feed them what you think is an appropriate amount of food...it was terrifying for parents too!  But, they want you to push the ED, to challenge it.  The first day, they provide you with snacks and lunch.  I gave my daughter a HUGE sandwich.  The staff even said when we met with them later that day - that was a BIG sandwich.  But she ate it and she ate all of it.  It's pushing them outside of their comfort zone, away from their "safe" foods.  Our daughter was one of few that weren't currently in a PHP program.  Several were going through treatment at UCSD's PHP program.  So, for us, some things were different than others.  Meaning; our child has never flat out refused to eat.  She had been completing 100% of her meals - she just wasn't eating enough to help her gain weight.  She is a dancer and she had to stop dance in November because there just weren't enough calories to compensate for what she was burning off.  So, the first day can be a bit tough.  You will give your child a morning snack, lunch and an afternoon snack.  YOU prepare it.  This method as simplistic as it sounds works and it takes the anxiety away from your child.  They don't have a voice in what they are eating.  Part of what you learn is there is no negotiating.  That can be tough - we saw it from a few others in treatment.  You have to trust that YOU know what is best for your daughter and be willing to sit with your child for their meals.  The rest of the week you bring in lunch and snacks.  They will weigh her on the first day, Wednesday and Friday.  You should see some progress during the week.  When you aren't focused on meals and snacks, you will be in groups.  Sometimes, it's the teens in one room and parents in another.  Siblings go with the teens.  Other times, it's a full group together.  You will learn the science behind why eating disorders do what they do.  For us, this was important to hear.  Dr. Kaye will come in to give a talk about the research studies and what they have found.  It helps to hear the science behind this because it reaffirms that this is not a choice, that there are biological reasons for this.  Mid week you will start working on the contract.  Someone had said if you can - bring a laptop.  They also have some there for you to work on as well.  They give you the framework of what your individual contract will look like.  Your child will identify rewards and consequences in a group with the teens.  You and your husband will take that information and incorporate it into your own personal family contract.  You will leave with a contract that works for YOUR family.  Again, seems so simple.  Rewards, consequences.  I am here to tell you that this is working for our family.  Our daughter said she felt "stuck" and wasn't making progress. This program gave her the push to get better.  Now, we've had a few rough meals/snacks.  The ED thoughts can be fierce at those times.  But you will find a way to love and support her through this.  For me, the BIGGEST positive was that my husband and I are now on the same page.  I've spent almost the last full year doing the lion's share of recovery alone.  He's very black/white.  ED is VERY grey. It helped him learn about the why's of the illness. We did some group exercises that were pretty prolific in terms of understanding what our kids go through (one was called the Gauntlet - our daughter was the participant...I cried).  This illness has wreaked havoc on our family life, caused stress and tension in my marriage, issues with our younger son but this week brought us together.  The IFT week can be hard but going home and putting this to work is HARDER.  But, it's working.  We are on week four of our contract.  Our daughter is gaining.  We are working towards weight restoration.  We learned that you cannot have recovery until the physical aspects are addressed; then you can really work on the mental aspects of ED. As they physically recover, their brain resumes growth (we learned that it actually shrinks due to malnutrition) and you will see glimpses of your child's personality returning.  That's not to say you won't have those "days" where the ED is fighting for your child.  But you will fight back - harder. 

The only thing that we wish could've been done differently was there were a few times we started to cover a particular topic of discussion and because of questions or whatever we never got farther than number one on the list.  But, UCSD gives you a binder of information.  You will have what seems like downtime as you eat/snack with your child so the actual time you are "learning" isn't truly 9am-3pm each day.  However, these people know what they are doing.  This is their niche.  They understand eating disorders.  Not saying that other treatment centers don't - but it's scientifically proven that Maudsley works.  We also learned that most treatment programs get a patient to 85% of their ideal body weight and then discharge them.  Which goes back to you have to be physically restored in order for mental restoration.  It creates a vicious cycle.  If they aren't physically restored, they will relapse and return to treatment...perpetuating the problem.  Now, we've only been in this for four weeks with the Maudsley method.  Been at anorexia for a little over a year.  These last four weeks have been better than the rest of the time we've tried to help our child. 

Ok - that's my soapbox.  If you have any questions, you can email me: aboncosky@gmail.com
I will be happy to help however you can.  The good thing is you will have a week away with undevoted attention on helping your daughter on her way to recovery.  Your family can pull together.  I wish you safe travels and much success at UCSD. 

Blessings to you and your family <3

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you specifically.  I don't mind if you reach out!

Thanks aboncosk for the detailed reply. I appreciate your insight tremendously.