Navigating the Eating Disorder Recovery Process

Eating disorder recovery describes the complex process an individual must go through on the road to overcoming its many challenges. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders are Eating Disorder Recoverygrossly underreported, making their prevalence difficult to quantify. However, as many as 57 percent of teenage girls admit to engaging in fasting, purging and taking diet pills or laxatives.* The process differs for each person, but true recovery cannot occur until a young woman is ready to create that change in her life. In fact, the statistics show that fewer than one-third of teen girls successfully recover from eating disorders. The risk for relapse is directly related to the methods and approach used for recovery and healing.

The Process of Recovery

The term recovery is often used in contexts related to addiction and substance abuse. It is more accurately used to describe the process of change an individual goes through once they confront the faulty thoughts and feelings that caused the problem in the first place. With an eating disorder, recovery involves gaining control of and changing behavioral responses to the emotions that underlie the disorder. The components or characteristics of a successful recovery include restoring self-respect, taking personal responsibility for one’s own recovery and reinstating empowerment and hope. Successful recovery also requires an individualized approach of intervention and treatment as well as peer support gained from sharing knowledge and experiences with others facing the same challenges.

The Importance of Readiness to Change

Eating disorder recovery requires family and peer support as well as professional and personalized interventions, but it also involves a willingness and readiness to change. The process requires a commitment to making the necessary behavior modifications and confronting potentially painful thoughts and emotions. Unless a young woman is truly committed to making positive changes, she may not succeed in her struggle. Ambivalence or feelings of being stuck are common themes in failed attempts at recovering.

Strategies for Avoiding Relapse

Long-term success in recovering from eating disorders requires a strong treatment team and personal support system. A common reason for relapse is re-entry into the environment where the original problem developed. It’s not usually possible or even desirable to remove a young woman permanently from her natural environment, however, so a strong plan and extensive preparation is required to help her make it through recovery. Residential treatment programs have shown great promise in helping to break the eating disorder cycle, and for helping adolescent and teenage girls develop strategies that will greatly improve their chances of a successful recovery.

Havenwood Academy specializes in residential treatment programs for girls and young women, with interventions designed especially for teens who struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Contact Havenwood today for more information about their eating disorder recovery programs.


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We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.