In order to help more people struggling with eating disorders, Ophelia’s Place in Liverpool has added two new support programs. Breaking Free is a group that caters to teens struggling with body image. The Parent Partner Program is for parents and caregivers of youths with eating disorders.
Breaking Free teen program
This new program is for teens battling disordered eating or body dissatisfaction. Ophelia’s Place Executive Director Jodie Wilson-Dougherty said it’s the first group that caters specifically to teens.
“We decided to do this group, in part, as a response to increased calls from parents of young teens who are struggling,” she said. ‘This issue is not limited to our community. For example, the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation hosts a Girl Ambassador program that connects local girls to girls across the globe. One of the issues they are talking about in this global conversation is body image.”
Participation in the group is not limited to those diagnosed with an eating disorder.
“Body dissatisfaction is one of the risk factors for developing an eating disorder, so we are coming at this from a prevention standpoint,” Wilson-Dougherty said. “We hope that as youth come together to talk about this issue, they will not only find support and encouragement from each other but also begin to challenge the narrow cultural definitions of health and beauty.”
Wilson-Dougherty will co-facilitate the group with The Q Center’s Tyler Sliker.
“Our partnership with The Q Center began when we hosted a coffee talk last summer on the issues of body image and eating disorders within the LGBTQ community,” Wilson-Dougherty said. “We recognized that many young people who identify as LGBTQ struggle with the same issues and feel marginalized. We also do not have many individuals of color who utilize our services. Body image and eating disorders do not discriminate, and we are working to expand our reach and invitation to everyone within our very diverse community who may need support and other services.”
The first meeting of the Breaking Free group will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, March 18 at Ophelia’s Place, 407 Tulip St., Liverpool. The group will meet once a month, with meetings alternating between Ophelia’s Place and The Q Center. For more information contact Tyler at 475-2430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parent Partner Program
The new parent program is designed to help family, friends and caregivers better understand eating disorders. Divided over three sessions, the program focuses on a different aspect of eating disorders at each meeting. From 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, participants will discuss the nutritional aspects of eating disorders, including cycles, metabolic assessment and the role a nutritionist can play. From 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, the group will deal with the medical aspects, from the role the doctor plays to the diagnosis to treatment. Finally, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, the topic will be the mental health impact eating disorders can have. This discussion will examine the role of family and friends, recovery rates and the goals of treatment.
Wilson-Dougherty said the Parent Partner Program is an offshoot of the center’s existing friends and family support group, which meets twice a month.
“We decided to utilize one of our support group nights to present this information over a three-month period,” she said. “We hope the second monthly meeting, which will run on its normal format, will allow more discussion about the information presented earlier in the month; to give parents time to digest the information and then ask more questions.”
Each night will consist of a PowerPoint presentation that includes video clips, film, a group discussion and an interactive question-and-answer period with each presenter.
Wilson-Dougherty said groups like this are critical to aiding those suffering from eating disorders.
“Parent and family education and support are key components to effective treatment for eating disorders,” she said. “Understanding that eating disorders are not about food is a concept that is crucial for recovery. This program, developed by professionals who specialize in eating disorders, is built on four core beliefs: that all families have strengths; that parents should be given positive recognition for being experts on their children; that a variety of family forms can promote the development of both healthy children and healthy adults; and that cultural differences are valid and valuable. We hope this presentation will help our effort to engage parents and loved ones in creating a healing environment for those recovering from eating disorders.”
Space for this group is limited. Contact Ophelia’s Place at 451-5544 to reserve your space.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.