Over the last two days I've collected quite a bit of material from the many residential treatment centers that are exhibiting here at NEDA. I'm going to be writing about a few of them, starting with the brochure from Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc.
If only the people who'd put this slick piece of marketing together knew how parents really reacted to it--or should. I already have an opinion about the programs at Rogers, but if I didn't, this would certainly sway me.
For starters, the image on the cover is of a girl. A young woman, really, maybe 14 or 15 years old. She's smiling, she's very pretty--and she's excruciatingly thin. It's hard to tell just how thin because she's wearing a hoodie over a shirt. But she's a lot thinner than I'd want any child of mine to be. Is she supposed to be recovered? In recovery? Newly arrived at Rogers? If this is a picture of the Rogers recovery, I'd run in the opposite direction. Fast.
Then there are the words that go with this image: "At Rogers Memorial, we utilize proven, evidence-based treatment components that give individuals with an eating disorder the best chance at recovery."
So far, so good. But there's more: "Our philosophy encourages self-empowerment, so that the individual's recoveryt is a result of his or her own success."
Uh-oh. If I'm a new parent I might think this sounds good. But everyone else will read this and know what it refers to: the tired, disproven notion that the individual must "choose" recovery.
Next come some quotes, presumably from Rogers patients, though they're not identified. Top of the list: "The treatment and therapies helped me realize it was my choice to get better." I say stop reading right there and throw the darn thing away. But if you insist on continuing, you'll find this one: "The art therapy was extremely helpful and provided another way for me to explore my eating disorder."
Explore your eating disorder? Honey, I don't want you to explore your eating disorder. I want you to RECOVER from it. Big difference. In fact we may be talking an oxymoron here.
Seen enough? No? Then turn the page for more on the Rogers approach: "Our treatment approach encourages self-empowerment. From admission to discharge and aftercare planning, individuals are involved in every step of the treatment process."
As the parent of a child who's recovered from an e.d., I can't think of anything worse than to have my child involved at every step of the way. As those of us who have been through this know, a child is INCAPABLE of "choosing" recovery, and when she's very very ill, such insistence will a) prolong the course of the disease, b) make treatment ineffective, c) exacerbate the child's already sky-high anxiety, and d) make veryone involved feel guilty as hell for not being able to "choose" recovery.
And here's the thing that gets me: This brochure is supposed to be marketing the program, making it sound irresistible to parents.
I'd say the Rogers folks haven't got a clue about what at least some parents want. And judging from this brochure, I'd say my confidence in their ability to help my child recover is pretty minimal.
That's it for tonight. I'll pick apart some more tomorrow.