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Buyer Beware

Two articles that I read recently in the New York Times purport to be about (only) Eating Disorders Treatment Centers “What to look for in a Residential Treatment Center” and “Centers to Treat Eating Disorders Are Growing, and Raising Concerns” but readers should take note – the cautions could be about any treatment center, any diagnosis because the authors remind readers to look past the pretty pictures and drill down to the facts about the types of treatment that are offered: if unlicensed, is there a license available? If outcome based data is presented, drill down on that too. When a treatment program seems too good to be true, because of the price or length of stay — beware!


This warning applies to All Kinds of Therapy website, as well. When you are contacting a program from this website — ask more questions and verify how they work with the students, what professionals are on staff and on site, safety protocols, how do they draw lines on who they will not admit. The programs on this website are self-reporting on questions designed by an informed, independent “outsider”; in order to post on this site, programs are more transparent and it is still up to you the consumer to ensure that what they say is the truth is the whole truth.


Question the professional who referred you to the treatment program too. What do they know about the program? Have they been there… recently? How many clients have they had there? What has not worked for their clients? According to the articles, Eating Disorders treatment is expanding; the treatment field is growing. Is it relevant that professionals are brought in and wined and dined by the programs? Does that flavor the recommendation? My guess is “no” for most professionals, though I believe you would want to know the whole truth about their interactions with the treatment facility. It is worth a conversation about how consultants and professionals discover programs, how they determine value and efficacy – and what they get from a program. To assist families in comprehending these referrent dynamics, “eating disorder programs” are exploring third-party oversight of standards for professional ethics as are other associations.


You as the consumer need to understand the ethics of the professional. For example, if a family asks me to help with placement services, I refer them to another professional. I do not take money from families to place students anymore. I am taking money from programs, to advertise on the this website. Yes, I have a couple of clients remaining from my earlier EC practice who know that I own and operate this website. Avoiding conflicts can be straightforward and transparent and any therapist, psychiatrist, placement professional should be able to provide the same clarity to you at any time. The professional might share costs in terms of visiting programs. And you, as the customer, have a right to know if and travel expenses are borne by professionals.


When you are calling a treatment facility of any type (wilderness therapy, eating disorder clinic, substance abuse treatment, behavioral health, etc.), there is frequently some level of crisis occurring in your life. When possible, make the time to visit treatment center, meet the therapists, make sure there are therapists or psychiatrists available in crises. Speak to individual and groups of students at the program, staff who will work with the students, and ensure that the program is actually doing what they tell you they are doing. Here are some sample questions. Find out how the program manages when troubled teens or young adults are struggling — how do they structure privileges or food or does the program have a more lenient, long-term approach? Ask for recent examples.


Despite much better regulatory oversight and best-practice standards around the US, there still are scary treatment centers that allege to “help” troubled teens and young adults. Investigate and ask questions!



About the Author

Jenney Wilder M.S.Ed launched All Kinds of Therapy in 2015, as the only independent online directory for the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry. With an impressive case of ADHD and her starter career in the 90’s in Silicon Valley, the dream for creating a website with features like side-by-side comparison and an integrated newsletter was born. Jenney stopped counting treatment centers and all types of schools that she has visited when she hit 500 many years ago. She was the sponsoring author of the only Economic Impact Study of the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry, which revealed the only true financial figures about this industry (in Utah). Jenney has a Masters in Special Education from Bank Street College (NY) and a Bachelors of Arts focused on History from Wheaton College (MA).