Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Maudsley Approach to Anorexia

Last year my husband and I spent most of a year refeeding our older daughter, who was diagnosed with anorexia. I wrote an essay about our experiences, which will be published in the New York Times Magazine tomorrow, 11/26/06.

The approach we used is called the Maudsley approach. It was developed at the Maudsley Hospital in London in the 1980s, and is very successful at helping teens with anorexia (though I know of families who have used it to help young adults in their 20s too) recover. It's not easy, but then nothing about this disease is easy, especially for the person who suffers from it.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Maudsley approach, visit, a website run by parent volunteers. There's a lot of great information on the site, including a basic introduction to Maudsley and a couple of personal stories from families who have used it. There's also a link to an online parents forum, which has been invaluable to me and my family as we have gone through this experience.

Another great site is, which is run by Laura Collins. Collins wrote a book about how her family helped their daughter recover through Maudsley; I recommend it highly. Her book of the same name is available on Amazon.

I've begun to do some coaching and guidance for families who are going through this re-feeding process. If you're interested in finding out more about coaching, or just want to get in touch for whatever reason, please e-mail me at

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Anorexia Study Volunteers Wanted

It seems appropriate on Thanksgiving Day to post about anorexia, a disease that's all about starvation in the face of plenty.

One of the most astonishing facts about the disease is that there's been very little research done on how to cure it. As in almost no studies. As in, anyone can call themselves an eating disorders therapist, and offer his or her own concoction of treatments, with predictable resuls.

If you've seen the movie THIN, you know what I mean.

There's only one way to make sure that compassionate, practical, and good treatments are developed--and that's with well-designed, controlled studies.

If you're a parent reading this because your daughter or son (yes, boys get anorexia too) is anorexic, you have the chance to enroll your child in one of the biggest studies that's ever been done on anorexia. It's being run by researchers at the University of Chicago, academic home of Dr. Daniel Le Grange, one of the leading practitioners of the Maudsley approach. The five-year study compares the Maudsley approach with another treatment approach. It's designed for teens ages 12 to 18 and their families, and involves either 24 or 32 treatment sessions over a year, with follow-ups down the road.

Treatment is FREE if your family is in the study. Of course you have to live within driving distance of Chicago.

For more info on the study, see, or call 773-834-5677, or email

I know it's hard for parents to make the choice to enroll a child in a study. I know you don't want your child to be a guinea pig. The great thing about this study is no matter which half your child gets randomized into, parents and families are involved with the treatment--which is a huge and important difference from most other treatments out there right now. To my mind that's crucial. I wouldn't post about the study if that weren't true.

I also like the fact that treatment is free if you're in the study. God knows most health insurers don't cover much (if any) treatment for anorexia. Ours certainly didn't. If you live in a state without mental health parity (as we do), you'll be stuck footing most of the treatment bills because insurers seem to consider treatments to be a frivolous luxury. They seem to think kids can somehow think themselves out of anorexia without all that expensive treatment.

If you're a parent of a child with anorexia, my heart goes out to you. You're not alone.