Teamwork: Collaborative Care In Eating Disorder Recovery
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
By Karen Chinca and Lauren Manasse
Collaboration is a key element of an individual’s recovery from an eating disorder. It can be overwhelming and scary when you suspect that you or a family member has an eating disorder. We strongly recommend that the first and most important step is to put together a treatment team. Our team at Greater Boston Wellness Collaborative (GBWC) can help you create a superior treatment team which will provide individualized care with attention to your specific needs.
Eating disorders are multi-faceted as they not only affect the brain and the body, but also an individual’s larger circle of friends and family. Because of the complexity in treating these disorders, it is essential for individuals struggling with them to have a full team of professionals who are experts in the field. People recover more quickly if they have a treatment team which is collaborative, communicates effectively with one another, and has a similar philosophy around recovery.
Who should be on a treatment team?
• A primary care physician (PCP) or pediatrician • A psychotherapist • A registered dietician • A psychopharmacologist if needed
Other providers might include a meal support coach, group, family therapist, or other specialists
5 Signs of a Healthy Collaborative Treatment Team
There is clear and regular communication among the team members. This could be via secured email, phone, or in person. This constant flow of communication enables all providers to be up to date on all aspects of the case, which promotes a more efficient and speedier recovery.
There are clear and maintained boundaries. All treatment team members agree upon appropriate boundaries with our clients. For example, if the team agrees that all members will return calls within 24 hours, then they all follow that rule. Setting boundaries enables us to maintain professional clarity, which ultimately benefits us as well as our clients. Most importantly, it’s critical that as a team we consider what is in the best interest of our clients and maintain a consistent and unified front as we set boundaries in our practice.
There are clear roles and consistency among providers. Each member of the team has a job, from therapist to nutritionist, physician to medication prescriber, and so on. We clearly define what each of our jobs is with one another and with you to avoid duplication of care.
The team is willing and able to meet together and/or with you. It is very important that you know that we talk with each other and will meet to share both our delights and our concerns. We will also meet with you periodically to review progress. We can’t tell you how many times clients have thanked our team for being willing to make time in our schedules to come together to work alongside each other and with them.
There is a sense of unity and strength in the team. Acting with integrity, consistency and collaboration builds bonds among team members and ensures a powerful team force of which you are a part. When we are a “choir” of voices, it can be very powerful for someone who now has a team rooting for them in unison. We hope this will help at times when you might really need that support.
On the flip side, you know things have gone awry when:
There are communication glitches. These may include anything from an inability to open secure emails to a team member not “passing the baton” or not returning calls or emails at all. It is also hard to work in the dark and anticipate where to step next. This disruption in communication can be not only confusing but also disheartening for you. With our team, your personal treatment needs are always front and center. We always create an individualized treatment plan, and we hold team meetings regularly with you, where we work together to stay on the same page to support you.
There is a difference of clinical opinion and no clear way to address or resolve it. Even healthy teams disagree at times. The goal is to understand each other’s position so we can communicate a unified message to you. Our team is aligned clinically and shares a wealth of experience in the field. We like and trust one another so we can quickly work through any potential differences of opinion. This is a real strength!
There are too many cooks. It can be overwhelming to have many providers on your team, even though each provider has a unique role. Our goal is to ensure that our services don’t overlap and that you feel supported without feeling burdened with the number of professionals on your treatment team.
Our team is a small group of providers that you can get to know. With your permission, we can communicate your story with one another to minimize your having to repeat yourself. Part of our job is to reduce your stress so we can focus more on getting you the support you need.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, we genuinely hope you will consider working with a treatment team that specializes in eating disorders as a path to recovery. We bet it will pay off in the long run!
As always, please feel free to email us with questions, concerns, or comments.