Family Support

At the Laureate Eating Disorders Program we understand that eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating not only affect the disordered individual, but also the person's relationships with others. Those who care the most are often those most affected.

The DOs and DON'Ts of Family Support

Oftentimes, relationships with family members and friends are severely damaged as a result of the eating disorder. Communication within the family is often strained and sometimes non-existent. Feelings of anger, fear, sadness, shame, guilt and abandonment run rampant in the affected family. Family and friends are often concerned, but do not know what to do.

Below are some helpful tips to get help support your loved one and stay together as a family.

What to DO

  • Write down specific instances of problematic behavior.
  • Educate yourself and other family members about eating disorders.
  • Get advice from mental health and medical professionals who are knowledgeable about eating disorders.
  • Share your concerns directly with the person in a calm, caring manner.
  • Communicate (1) the seriousness of your concern, (2) your conviction that treatment is necessary and (3) your willingness to provide emotional, financial or other practical support.
  • Demonstrate responsibility, authority and wisdom in getting treatment for minors with eating disorders.
  • Realize the importance of patience. Recovery is a gradual process.
  • Know that treatment should address the biological, psychological, behavioral, social and cultural aspects of the disorder.

What NOT to Do

  • Neglect the support of others who have observed similar problematic behavior.
  • Discuss your concerns with the person without recommending a course of treatment or help.
  • Put the needs of the individual with the eating disorder before your own.
  • Expect the person to acknowledge the problem. Most often, he/she will feel threatened at the thought of giving up the dysfunctional eating and behavior.
  • Allow the person to disrupt your life through manipulation, arguments, threats, blame, guilt, bribes or resentment.
  • Resist family therapy; it is usually an important part of treatment.
  • Allow yourself to be programmed by negative influences. Love your relative or friend for himself/herself, not appearance, body weight or achievement.

Additional Information

Talking With Your Loved One
About Eating Disorders
Family Week at Laureate


Whether you are a young woman suffering with an eating disorder, a parent, a friend or coach, please call our admissions coordinators with any questions. You can reach Lisa and Becca directly at 800-322-5173 or locally at 918-491-3702 and your conversation will be completely confidential.