• Mother of 17 year old athlete son with ARFID

    Our 17 year old son has battled with gagging, coughing, and throwing up after meals since he was in second grade. Certain emotional triggers/anxieties would bring this on which resulted in us making accommodations so that he would not get sick. For ten years we had managed these ups and downs with many doctor visits, counselor help and psychiatrists. There were quiet times when we thought this was all in the past and then a trigger would creep in and our family would feel like we were unable to get our son back. He missed out on many activities that he enjoyed, so that he would not be challenged with his anxiety. He just managed to live with it – skipping meals or eating only when he was comfortable. He decided to not play the sports he enjoyed and he kept life close to home to make things easier for him. But he wasn’t happy. This ultimately wasn’t what he desired. His sophomore year he began playing football for the first time in high school. Excitingly, this led to him being offered scholarships to play in college. This was joy for him, but also caused the vomiting to return. Our son was barely eating and was just too weak and tired to live healthy. He needed help, but refused psychiatrists who seemed to only suggest meditation, medication or mindfulness. Our son’s toolbox was exhausted and his father and I were really worried. I discovered Julie Knopp online and thought maybe her background as a Registered Dietician in Sports Nutrition would be something our son would be willing to try. After our virtual meeting with her she suggested we speak with Julie Guild. That is when we discovered that our son has an eating disorder ARFID. The relief he felt was immediate and with both Julie Knopp and Julie Guild’s knowledge we were able to work as a team to get Nathan healthy again. Our son did not fight seeing them for appointments because for once he felt they understood him and could help. It was hard work but we saw improvements each day. The family approach is challenging, but we discovered it was necessary so that our son’s team was together at every appointment to support him. Julie Knopp, Julie Guild and Martha Danielson (*family mentor) taught us the tools, strategies and care needed to guide him with his eating disorder. Most importantly, they correctly diagnosed our son and were the experts he truly needed. Our family is grateful that we found Richmond Center for Eating Disorders.” 

    Father of 10 year old daughter with anorexia

    “It was when we caught our daughter putting some of her dinner in a hidden plastic bag that we finally realized that our 10-year old’s weight loss wasn’t just due to a growth spurt. We were totally blind-sided because we aren’t a family obsessed with body image.  How could this have happened? Maybe the internet had some impact but it seems that the social isolation of the Covid pandemic has contributed to a spike in eating disorders. Ultimately, we may never know but her recovery became our first priority. Her cousin had struggled with an eating disorder and had been checked in to a residential treatment center, so when we wanted answers that was the first option that came to mind.  We are so thankful we didn’t take that often ineffective path.

    We were fortunate to discover the Richmond Center for Eating Disorders and their unique “FBT” program. When we first heard about Family Based Therapy I have to admit to being skeptical of a non-residential approach. Instead of passing our problem on to strangers in a costly institution we had to put in the time ourselves to implement a strict, research-based regimen of feeding and counseling. FBT is straightforward but it isn’t easy. More importantly, it works.

    As we learned more about the research supporting FBT and the various ways the disorder can manifest, counseling sessions also served to guide and encourage us all as we learned how to unite as a family and apply strategies to battle the enemy disorder. Our daughter is now fully recovered and maintaining a heathy weight and outlook on food. We know how to be vigilant against a return of the disorder and what our response will be. We feel a relief and gratitude that can hardly be described. FBT works. If you choose it, fully commit, put in the work and you will see for yourself that the research is right, this method is effective. Not only will you get your loved one back, your family will emerge stronger and more united than before.”


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