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Editor’s Note: If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder and in need of treatment, click here to find out more and to get help.
Kara Tsosie battled an eating disorder for years. Originally diagnosed at the age of 16, she was eventually so frail that her hair was falling out, she was prone to fainting, and she developed serious heart complications. Her menstrual cycle even completely shut down due to severe malnutrition. She first started down the path toward an eating disorder with a desire to eat healthy that quickly spiraled out of control. She says of her experience, “With an eating disorder, your mind sets up rules in your head that are unrealistic. I remember how alone I used to feel. I remember crying myself to sleep and wishing I could disappear.”
For people struggling with eating disorders, confiding in somebody about what they’re facing is unbelievably difficult due to the pain and shame they’re experiencing. Many people afflicted by an eating disorder go to great lengths to hide the extent of their suffering from others, so if somebody trusts you enough to let you know what they’re going through, it’s important to take them seriously and encourage them to seek treatment. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illnesses and are nearly impossible to overcome without professional help.
However, getting somebody with an eating disorder the right help is just as important as making sure they get help in the first place. Many recovery programs employ one-size-fits-all approaches to treatment, which often fail because every person (and the underlying causes of their eating disorder) is very different. As the leading residential eating-disorder treatment facility in the country, Avalon Hills gives every individual who enters our program a completely personalized treatment plan to maximize their chances of making a full, lasting recovery. On average, the girls and women at Avalon Hills have been in and out of seven different treatment programs before they arrive on campus, because many programs only treat the symptoms of eating disorders rather than addressing the true roots of the problem.
Avalon Hills employs an integrated, multifaceted treatment approach beyond that available at most facilities to give our patients their best shot at sustainable success. Our comprehensive program utilizes leading psychotherapists, medical experts, dieticians, neurological experts, animal and outdoor therapists, and a culinary and support staff that’s second to none. Our unique approach combines family and group therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), psychodynamic and attachment developmental therapy, experiential therapy, neurotherapy, body-image interventions and more. While most eating-disorder facilities use some of these elements in their programs, the combination of all these methods to treat the whole person is what sets Avalon Hills apart.
Our commitment to incorporating every available scientifically proven treatment method into an integrated overall-wellness approach enables us to more fully understand each individual patient’s unique puzzle—and help them heal in a compassionate, nurturing environment. As Kara says, “Everyone at Avalon was caring and they truly treat to outcome. At first it was very hard—I often gave up on myself—but the staff never gave up on me, and I appreciate that. I began to realize that I am not my eating disorder and I don’t have to be. I began to see hope. I came alive again. I was Kara again.”
Our “Treat to Outcome” philosophy drives every aspect of our program—the ultimate goal is to dismantle the eating disorder, ignite a desire for a full life, and help each patient develop a better sense of self that will allow them to successfully pursue meaningful goals. We want the individuals under our care to return to their home communities equipped with the skills they’ll need to manage their eating disorder after leaving the controlled environment of a residential facility. In addition to providing the highest level of care to each and every patient that comes through our doors, we also continue to work with graduates of our program to ensure they have a solid support network waiting for them at home, with outpatient providers, family, and friends who will help keep them on track. As Kara explains, “The staff at Avalon make sure you have the skills you need to continue in your recovery process after discharge. They help you find a treatment team where you live to ensure you are successful in your recovery…they check up to see how you are doing a few months later. I appreciated how committed they are and how they want you to fully recover.”
After lots of treatment, hard work, and personal growth, Kara made a full recovery, and is happier than she’s ever been. “I can fully say that the eating disorder is not me and is not part of me. I am happy and I am in charge of my life. I am no longer a slave to the eating disorder. I am myself, and I know that the staff at Avalon Hills helped make that possible. Recovery is possible—I know because I am living it and loving every moment of it.”