Rainbow Road – Eating Disorder Treatment for the Queer Community
The First Program of Its Kind in the US
While eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages and ethnicities, some groups are particularly susceptible to the disease. According to the Trevor Project National Survey, LGBTQIA2s+ folxs are 50 percent more likely to develop an eating disorder or die by suicide. These heartbreaking statistics speak to the magnitude of treatment for mental health needs in the queer community.
Sadly, when it comes to mental health, there continues to be an inaccurate dominant narrative that only certain bodies get eating disorders, when in fact LGBTQIA2s+, BIPOC and AAPI people are more likely to develop an eating disorder than this narrative would suggest.
To help our industry begin to address these disparities, Walden recently launched Rainbow Road, an IOP that addresses the specific needs and challenges of LGBTQIA2s+ people in terms of body image, relationships, and the social cultural trauma experienced being queer in an often-hateful world.
Walden launches IOP for the LGBTQIA2s+ community
The people we work with in Rainbow Road tell us that they feel heard and understood in ways they don’t expect especially from health providers. We know this helps keep them motivated to continue their path to recovery.
One aspect of Walden’s program that many participants find helpful in their treatment is Queer Expressions Art Therapy, which helps them learn how to cope with life. A recent project was creating an emergency emotion regulation box using various art forms from clay to photography. Each piece of art represented a different skill they were working on and served as a tangible and thoughtful reminder during particularly hard days.
The first eating disorder program of its kind in the country
Rainbow Road is the first of its kind in the country in terms of eating disorder treatment for queer clients, by queer and allied providers who have a deep understanding of intersectional therapy and the nuances needed to work with this population in a way that is affirming and creates sustainable recovery.
Mental health treatment is not a one size fits all process. In starting the Rainbow Road IOP, Walden is spearheading a movement to be more inclusive and to provide services unique to the queer community, so they know there is a safe and welcoming place for them to get the help they need.
We are proud to be modeling what the new societal expectation should be for mental health and eating disorder treatment providers and programs, and how to compassionately care for people of all genders and sexualities.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Rainbow Road IOP, Walden is here to help you. Contact us today and tell your evaluator that you are interested in Rainbow Road.
Author M Reim Ifrach (They/Them) is the Director of Rainbow Road IOP for Walden Behavioral Care. Their credentials include: REAT, ATR-BC, LPC. M is on the Board of Directors for Project HEAL and a contributor to the Museum of Modern Art’s “Artful Practices” Program. When M is not seeing clients, they teach Masters Level students on Diversity Practice in Art Therapy, Eating Disorders and Gender Affirming Care. M’s passion lies deeply with the LGBTQIA2S+, BIPOC+ and AAPI communities and seeks to expand mental health care to be more inclusive of all those with marginalized identities and barriers to treatment.