Help Your Teenager Beat An Eating Disorder is written by two of the foremost experts in the field of treating adolescent eating disorders: James Lock, MD, PhD and Daniel LeGrange, PhD. Drs. Lock and LeGrange have published numerous journal articles detailing their research with adolescents. Their research has centered around Family-Based Treatment (Maudsley for anorexia nervosa. This book is well-written and easy to read. They do a wonderful job of translating statistics and research results into layman’s terms and applicable information.
The first section, entitled ‘Getting Started’ discusses when parents should become concerned that their child has an eating disorder and how to go about getting an evaluation and beginning the treatment (and ultimately recovery) process. I think this section of the book is so helpful in that it reminds parents that eating disorders are serious and sometimes fatal diseases. Waiting until the disorder gets worse or becomes more problematic is never advisable. It also discusses the always present question of ‘why did my child develop an eating disorder?’ Although no one can give a specific answer to that question, the authors do address the complex causes of eating disorders in general and encourage parents to move past it.
The second section of the book is entitled ‘Understanding Eating Disorders’ and gives the reader a good general overview of what eating disorders are, what the complications of eating disorders are, how someone who is suffering is thinking, and what the research says about the best treatments for adolescents, including Family-Based (Maudsley) Treatment, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy.
Within the third section of the book entitled ‘Making Treatment Work,’ Dr. Lock & LeGrange address the struggles that many parents face with an adolescent who has an eating disorder. It clearly explains the role of parents both in Maudsley-type treatment settings as well as with other therapies. The involvement of parents is encouraged for all families. It also addresses issues such as receiving conflicting advice from professionals and what to do when parents disagree with a member of the treatment team.
One of the most important chapters in the book is towards the very end and encourages families to present a united front towards the eating disorder. I have found in my work with eating disorders that families in which the parents are not in agreement about treatment (what treatment/who to see etc.) or even about the seriousness of the eating disorder, often have the most difficulty getting their adolescent into recovery. Eating disorders, like any serious illness, create a large amount of stress within a family and this can just as easily happen in families where parents are married as it can in families in which parents are divorced or separated.
Overall, I would recommend this book for parents. It is important to note that it isn’t a comprehensive guide for parents and certainly doesn’t replace the advice of their treatment team professionals. Families who are not using Maudsley for treatment may not find the book as helpful as those families who are.
Who is this book appropriate for?
As the title implies, this book is most appropriate for parents of adolescents (boys and girls) who have or may have an eating disorder. It is particularly helpful for families who are engaging in Family-Based Treatment but is also recommended for families who are using other types of treatment as well. However, other family members such as grandparents or older siblings could also benefit from reading some of the sections as well.