The first time I heard about Maudsley therapy, also known as family based treatment (FBT), I fell in love. It was a radical new direction in eating disorders treatment, asking families to be involved in healing a loved one, rather than blaming them for the illness. Despite its startling differences from conventional treatment—and probably because of these differences--the approach made intuitive sense to me. Once I began to see its great results with my own patients, I was even more in love. I got to see children come back to life before my eyes, the joy in their parents eyes at having their child back, and it seemed we had found the perfect treatment .
But like most long-term relationships, the honeymoon was bound to end.
More difficult cases began to come in…kids who had been ill for many years, parents who felt so abused, misled and belittled by treatment professionals that they seemed unable to take back their own power. In came the families so exhausted from battling the eating disorder that they had no more energy to give. Other problems—psychiatric, marital, financial—emerged in the meantime and fought for space in my office and at their homes.
Like any long-term relationship, the longer one spends doing this therapy, the more aware of its imperfections one becomes. FBT is not a panacea, but it’s remarkably better than most other treatment options for children and adolescents with eating disorders. Just because the object of our affection is imperfect does not mean it’s time to bail on the relationship.
Please use this blog to help those of us helping you create better treatments. Kids, I want to hear from you too—your voice counts and your opinion matters. Yes, it really does. We’ll talk more about this in future posts.