National Eating Disorders Association

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Horror stories from residential

Looking for advice about residential treatment ...

My daughter is currently in treatment at a well-respected facility. The things we hear on calls are horrible:
- they cannot talk during meals
- they cannot stand up w/o permission
- no one talks in the groups
- she has not been given boxes and letters we’ve sent. I believe they are being held as incentives
- she has panic attacks and is ignored

I also found a Reddit entry by a past patient about this particular facility that says these things and more.

The specialists we work with and others tell me my daughter’s ED is just trying to get out of there and she is trying to manipulate me. But she says her mental health is deteriorating in there.

I’m so conflicted! Do any of you have experience with residential care?

SD Mom.

I suspect it's going to be difficult to get a straight story. When residential seems to be the only option, folks can be reluctant to badmouth treatment places.

I do know from many years of reading people's self-reports about their treatment experiences (often from people who have often been in multiple programs) that some places do indeed seem to be better than others.

"The specialists we work with and others tell me my daughter’s ED is just trying to get out of there and she is trying to manipulate me."

Again, it's hard to say. Keep in mind the fact that some patients go in voluntarily, and are truly looking to get better, while other patients really do just want to just get the heck out of there and get back to their EDs. What I mean is that a client's attitude can have a big influence in how they perceive their situation.

One other thing to keep in mind is that it's not at all uncommon for new patients to completely freak out for the first 10 days or so. Frantic calls on the phone, talking about the horrors of their situation are not uncommon, so I'd withhold judgment for the first couple of weeks, and see how she feels about things then.

But yes, despite the warm and glowing self-descriptions that almost every treatment place sets forth to the public, some places can be considerably more heavy-handed than others I think. So it's probably best to keep an open mind for a while, and see how the situation appears to develop.


I appreciate your reply. Your comments are logical and helpful.

I agrée with the above reply-

I agrée with the above reply- when our children who are ill are forced to face their illness, and recover / recieve treatment, the ugly side comes out.
What you are hearing is your child’s disorder trying desperately to escape a place where it is being directly tackled!! DO NOT LISTEN!
they are not allowed to talk during meals likely because many patients would speak inappropriately about the food, or try to distract staff through conversation so they don’t have to eat.
They cannot stand without permission because many sufferers will have a standing compulsion (trying to burn calories)
People do not talk in groups because they are shy or scared: this is normal
The calorie talk and complaint about feeds is clearly the ED talking.
As for the rest of her complaints: I believe her ED will be trying to demonise and portray the residential as far worse than it is!
stick to your guns, and please please don’t listen to the ED!!!! you are stronger than it, and your daughter is where she needs to be.
Elise xx

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