Windsor – Tecumseh – Psychologist – Therapist – Golden Sun Wellness & Counselling

Phone: 519-919-4499
25 Amy Croft Dr Unit 18A, Windsor, ON N9K 1C7

How you can help someone with an eating disorder

As someone who worked at the front line in the eating disorder field for a decade, I have come across countless family members and friends seeking ideas, suggestions, and a kind voice to help them learn ways to support the person they care about who is suffering.  While I spoke with these individuals, I noticed that I would provide slightly different suggestions depending on where the person is suffering is at in their recovery. With that being said, I thought it might be helpful to share one major suggestion in each of the three categories: What to do before someone accesses treatment, while they are in treatment and how to support someone after treatment is completed. 

How you can help someone before they access treatment

This tends to be the time that most family members/friends reach out to speak with an eating disorder clinic or specialist. Caregivers want to know what to do, or say, or how they can get their loved one into treatment. As a front line working these conversations pull at your heartstrings, you hear the worry, concern and sadness in carers voices.  Besides offering compassion, I always suggest that a caregiver learn about the types of treatment options in their community.  The reason I suggest this is because once a loved one is ready for treatment, you will want to be well prepared with information.  Here are some pro-tips to ask either private practitioners, or government funded agencies:

  • How do you make a referral into the program?
  • Is there a cost associated with the service(s)?
  • What level of care do they provide (is it an outpatient clinic, day treatment, residential, or hospital setting) – depending on the severity of the illness, individuals sometimes need more than a community outpatient program? – future Blog post coming about the levels of care 😊
  • Is there a BMI cut off to access the program?
  • What type of treatment do they provide (do they provide evidence based treatments, such as CBT-E or CBT-T) – future blog post about the difference and what they coming soon 😊
  • Can family remembers come to an appointment? How does that work?

How to help someone while they are in treatment

Now let’s chat about how you can help your loved one that is currently in treatment.  I had the privilege of asking clients while in treatment what they wanted the most from loved ones and the answer I typically got was so simple, which was a hug. I think this really is a testament to the idea that you don’t have to be an expert or know exactly what to say, you can just be there for the person in a compassionate way.  The idea of just being there for someone with no agendas and holding space for them is powerful.  I also typically encourage caregivers to ask their loved ones what they need throughout their journey of recovery, you might be surprised by their answer.

How to help someone after they complete treatment

First off, wow, your loved one completed treatment and is doing well. As a caregiver it’s relieving to see your loved return to their old self.  I found that most online articles, blog posts and so on don’t really speak about this stage, which I think is important to speak out because recovery doesn’t end, once treatment is over. As caregivers we want to encourage positive changes and keep them going. We also want to be aware of any red flags or warning signs and openly discuss them with your loved one. Finally, regular eating and relying on this when a loved one feels they are slipping is critical. Remember all foods fit.  


*This article is based on my front-line experience working in the eating disorder field for a decade. There is always so much to say and not every situation is the same, and the topics above may not resonate with some readers.  These are my top tips I’ve always shared with family members, that I have gotten the most positive response from.  It is always important for your loved one to seek help as quickly as possible and have regular on-going medical care*

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Dr. Nikita Yeryomenko

Dr. Nikita Yeryomenko graduated with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Windsor in 2017, where he then worked for a number of years. He gained most of his experience in various university counselling centers. These settings are fast-paced, high-volume, and see individuals with a very wide variety of concerns…


Ms. Dana Dupuis

Ms. Dana Dupuis has been a registered Social Worker in good standing with The Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Services Workers for the last 11 years. Most of that time she worked as an intake specialist at Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa Association, where she had carried significant caseloads and completed over….

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