If your child has an eating disorder, or is in recovery, it is very important to “advocate” for his/her needs and find support for them within school. This is the third blog post of four, detailing Walden Behavioral Care’s school psychologist, Tarah Doyle, perspective on getting the help your child needs within the social and emotional aspects of the transition. It can be beneficial to have multiple contacts at school who your child feels comfortable talking to, easing the compound stress which eating disorders can have on emotions.
School psychologist/Guidance Counselor/Adjustment Counselor/School Social Worker
Adequate support within the school setting is an important part of treatment and recovery from an eating disorder. Eating disorders impact individuals’ ability to regulate emotions on top of the fact that treatment is often extremely difficult and exacerbates emotionality. It may be helpful, or even necessary, to have a ‘point’ person at school for your child to check-in with on a regular basis or to go to if they are feeling upset and cannot manage their emotions independently. The school contact person serves as an advocate to the student and their family and a supportive in-school counselor, provides consultation to school faculty, and maintains communication with the child’s outpatient team. Releases of information should be completed for all members of your child’s treatment team to allow ongoing communication and collaboration between your child’s school and outpatient teams to ensure that your child’s academic, social-emotional, and physical needs are being met. Additionally, the school contact (psychologist, counselor, or social worker) may provide in-school counseling to supplement/support the work being done out of school. Examples may include: relaxation training, mindfulness exercises/training, problem-solving, coping skills training, or supportive listening. In some situations, the outpatient therapist may have specific objectives for the school support to work on within the school setting.
About the author
Tarah Doyle, Psy.D., is the lead clinician in the Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program at Walden’s Worcester clinic. Tarah is a licensed school psychologist who earned her MA/CAGS and her Doctorate in Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Tarah has worked with children ranging in age from 2-18 years old, but has a fondness for working with adolescents. Tarah currently utilizes family-based therapy to help adolescents recover from their eating disorders with the support of their families.