Information for Parents

Does your child have an eating or body image disorder?

For parents, experiencing eating and body image disorders in your children is distressing and anxiety provoking. The London Centre offers both family therapy, as well as support and information sessions for parents. It is not uncommon for children and adolescents to be very reluctant to attend treatment. They will often express a strong desire to hold onto their eating disorder, or anxiety about talking openly to a professional about their difficulties. Young people (as well as parents) can have pre-conceived ideas about what treatment will involve or what seeing a psychologist will be like. This can often result in a fear that they will be told off, judged, misunderstood or talked down to. It is important that young people do not feel forced into attending therapy, and it can often help if they are told that if they do not like their therapist, they will not necessarily have to continue with sessions. That said, it is not uncommon to find attending therapy difficult at first, and young people should be encouraged to give it a few sessions to see how they feel.

What do I need to do before my childs appointment?

Try to talk to your child about any anxiety, pre-conceptions or fears they have about attending therapy. Try to show you child that you understand these fears and that they are common fears to have. Explain to your child that everything that is talked about is 100% secret and does not go out of the room. During the first session, older children are usually seen together with their parents for the first half of the session and then on their own for the second half. Younger children are usually always seen with their parents unless they ask to see the psychologist on their own at any point.

Support and Information Sessions for Parents

Whether your child is undergoing treatment with us or not, we are happy to provide either a one off or a series of information and support sessions for parents. Eating disorders are very distressing disorders, and parents can often feel a mixture of helplessness, fear, guilt, distress, anger and frustration. Parents are often very anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing and do not know how they should be dealing with their childs eating disorder. Information and support sessions include psychoeducation to help you better understand eating disorders and how to deal with them. If your child is over 18, specific information about your childs difficulties will not be discussed unless your child has agreed to this beforehand. Sessions also involve providing the parent with support to help them cope with the distressing impact of having a child with an eating disorder.

Recommended Reading and Resources

Anorexia nervosa, a survival guide for families, friends and sufferers
By Janet Treasure

Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder
By Janet Treasure, Grainne Smith and Anna Crane

Eating Disorders A Parents’ Guide, from the Great Ormond Street Hospital Eating Disorders Clinic
By Rachel Bryant-Waugh and Bryan Lask

Anorexia and Bulimia in the Family
By Grainne Smith