Exciting news! Professor Daniel Le Grange and I are writing an update to the first edition of My Kid is Back – Empowering Parents to Beat Anorexia Nervosa.
Families who have participated in Family-Based Treatment (FBT) for a child with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) are warmly invited to share their stories in this new edition.
This new edition of My Kid is Back will be packed with family stories about evidence of life experience and Prof. Le Grange’s helpful explanations of evidence-based science. Family stories are important. We all learn from them. Your stories, told in your own words, will disseminate the evidence-based research led by Prof. Le Grange in a way that helps other families, and health professionals, identify with and understand.
Importantly, as with families who shared their experience in the first edition, your stories in the second edition will help inform and educate a new generation of families and the health profession on what living with this illness is like and what the treatment process looks like in the family home.
FBT, also known as the Maudsley Approach, is the evidence-based gold standard for treating anorexia nervosa in children. In FBT, parental involvement is central to recovery. Time, commitment, and perseverance are required when the family home doubles as the recovery centre. FBT’s key to success in treating anorexia is the family.
The power of a family’s love and commitment cannot be underestimated. Not all parents can take on the challenge of overcoming the illness that has overtaken their child. Still, for those who do and succeed, their family unit is strengthened in many ways beyond that of beating the eating disorder.
Previously, parents were shut out of the treatment process in many traditional therapies. By contrast, with FBT, a therapist acts as a “consultant” to parents as they help their child recover.
There is no assured ‘cure’ for AN. Even though FBT is the most effective treatment for a child with AN, the success rate is less than 70 per cent. This means that about one in three families with a child who develops anorexia nervosa do not find FBT helpful.
The new edition of My Kid is Back will acknowledge that while many families find FBT helpful, this method does not suit all families. Importantly, sharing our stories about daily life in our family homes can help our researchers find more answers to improve treatment rates for us and the families who follow.
What has your experience of FBT been like? Whether or not your family has found FBT to be helpful, you are invited to share your experience.
Sixteen years ago I travelled from Australia to meet Professor Daniel Le Grange in Chicago and share my concept for writing a book about FBT in which the families would share their stories.
The first edition of My Kid is Back was published two years later, in 2009, and many families have found this book, containing evidence-based explanations and a range of first-person family stories, very helpful.
I was inspired to write this book due to my experience with anorexia, a journey that began at age 11 and led to estrangement in adulthood from my family of origin. Unfortunately, in the 1960s there was no FBT to inform, guide and encourage my parents. When I recovered my healthy self at age 55, I wanted to do all I could to encourage early intervention for children who developed AN. I did not want the children of today to suffer as I did. I also wanted to help families stay united and be strengthened, instead of divided, by the illness.
Prof. Le Grange was a member of the team that developed the Maudsley Approach in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and was instrumental in introducing the treatment (which has become known as Family-Based Treatment) to the United States, Australia and globally.
Left untreated or improperly treated, AN has a huge social and economic cost. The illness can destroy personal and family happiness. Early intervention with FBT can nip AN in the bud, with the healing powers of love and family unity defeating the destructive negative voice.
A generation of children has been born since the first edition of My Kid is Back. The catalyst for a second edition comes from experienced parent caregivers who work in homes to support families experiencing AN. “Families need an updated book that presents new stories, explains the latest research outcomes and provides new resources,” the caregivers said.
Prompted by this heartfelt appeal, I contacted Prof. Le Grange, and our publisher, Routledge (London). Everybody agreed with the caregivers that this new book is needed! The caregivers have been heard, and so here I am, inviting you to participate by sharing your story.
The second edition of My Kid is Back will present updated research and treatment information on FBT, as provided by Prof. Le Grange, new family stories, an updated chapter on strategies for coping with eating disorders, and an updated resource listing.
A prime message will be that early intervention with FBT can greatly reduce the severity of anorexia nervosa. The earlier a child receives treatment, the greater the likelihood of fast recovery and freedom to resume normal living. The best outcome is for those for whom intervention in their illness occurs within six months of onset.
My prime role in this book is to gather your stories. I believe your voice of experience is pivotal to finding answers and improving treatments in the eating disorder field. To be considered for sharing your story in the second edition of My Kid is Back, at least two family members – a parent and a child with experience of anorexia nervosa – will agree to participate. You will be invited to answer a questionnaire and be available for a one-hour individual interview via Zoom. Ideally, all family members (parents, the child with illness experience, and siblings) will consent to share their experience of FBT on the questionnaire and in the Zoom conversation. This is because when AN develops in a child, the effect is felt by all family members, and each person’s experience and perspective are valid and important.
The timeframe is not relevant. Your experience of FBT might have occurred in the past 10 years, or it might be happening now.
You can choose to remain anonymous or to have your name in print.
Expressions of interest in contributing to this book will close on Friday, November 10.
If you and your family would like to make your experience count and contribute to the Second Edition of My Kid is Back – Empowering Parents to Treat Anorexia Nervosa, fill out the below form:
I look forward to hearing from you and sharing this significant book-creation process with you. Through sharing our stories, we can help health professionals improve their care, and we can give hope and encouragement to other families, everywhere.
Postscript: If you shared your story in the first edition of My Kid is Back, and would like to share how life has been for you since 2008, I will be delighted to hear from you, too.