Eating disorders deeply affect every member of the family, creating tension between family members, disrupting daily routines, and contributing to feelings of confusion, anger, guilt and fear. Family-based treatment is at the heart of Mirasol's residential eating disorder treatment programs.
Through regular phone or videoconferencing sessions, family members learn how they may be unintentionally supporting the eating disorder, and how to respond appropriately to client behavior changes during and after treatment.
Individual family therapy sessions may be supplemented by a three-day family program, when family members and friends come to Mirasol to share the experience of intensive residential treatment with their loved ones.
This program is designed to help spouses, family members and significant others develop honest and balanced relationships with one another. Family members learn what they can do to help, how to open up lines of communication, illuminate what role eating disorders serve within the family system, how to set boundaries and limits, and how to deal with their own feelings of guilt, anger, shame and helplessness.
Clients begin preparing for our family program from the day they arrive at Mirasol. Through individual and group therapy, they learn to use affirmations and "when you ... I feel" statements to build self-esteem and assertiveness.
During the family program, parents experience residential treatment along with their loved ones, sharing meals and participating in workshops on mindful eating, nutrition, family dynamics, psychodrama and adventure therapy. Family programs are highly individualized according to the client's needs and interests, but the core of the program is creating opportunities to practice new ways of communicating.
As part of Mirasol's family program, both clients and their families participate in experiential activities, which may include high ropes challenge courses, zip lines, high "V” and giant ladders.
Adding the challenge course has created a whole different dimension. Families often tell us that it was the highlight of the program. It helps them feel connected and learn to communicate in a different way. So it really does what we want family program to do, which is put them in a place where they will have a whole different relationship going forward