Should friends and families be involved in treatment

It all depends on the patient’s situation. Support from family and friends can be an important adjunct to therapy and recovery. In fact, some psychotherapeutic approaches involve these people in certain aspects of treatment such as family counseling sessions or training for family on how to be supportive at mealtimes and in other social and family settings. However, in some situations, such involvement may not be appropriate. Treatment and recovery must remain patient centered at all times, and the therapist has a responsibility to build and maintain a trusting and a safe therapeutic environment for the patient.

Assessing whether and how family dynamics contribute to the situation can be a sensitive issue, and is worth considering whether and how it could benefit the person with the eating disorder. Figuring this out requires consulting with a mental healthcare professional experienced in treating people with eating disorders and who is qualified to appropriately assess the situation to make recommendations about what to do. If family dynamics are a significant part of the problem, family members may need to participate in therapy separately from the patient. In some situations, a patient may not wish to have certain family members involved, especially in circumstances in which abuse occurred by that family member.