It’s an illness. Not a choice.
Whether you have received an official diagnosis or not, if your daughter or loved one is suffering, you may be tempted to blame yourself. Please don’t. You didn’t cause her condition.
Eating disorders are highly complex illnesses, and the latest medical science indicates that genetics may play a significant role. Still, no one can explain why some girls are more vulnerable than others. While researchers continue grappling with this question, you can take comfort in the knowledge that eating disorders are treatable conditions, and that scientifically validated therapies do exist.
At McLean Hospital, we treat eating disorders with the most advanced medical and psychiatric resources in the field. Our multidisciplinary team - many of whom are on the faculty at Harvard Medical School - consists of psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, nurses, expressive therapists, social workers and teachers. We also provide a full spectrum of therapeutic services to address issues that frequently co-exist with eating disorders, such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression and trauma-related disorders. Medical services are available on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Early intervention can prevent permanent damage to the heart, kidneys, bones and digestive system.
If you would like a free, confidential consultation with a McLean expert, please contact us. In most cases, we can admit Canadian patients to our residential program within 2 days of receiving their paperwork.
Based upon our conversations with hundreds of parents, we have assembled answers to many of your most frequent questions below:
Which documents does a Canadian need in order to receive treatment at McLean?
To receive residential care, the patient will need her passport and medical records.
How soon could my daughter be admitted to McLean?
Once her paperwork is complete, we can usually admit a patient within 2 days.
Does McLean require medical screening prior to admission?
Ideally, medical screening should include an EKG, a set of recent labs with certain values and a growth chart from the prospective patient’s pediatrician. We will work with you even if you don’t have access to all of these records.
Will the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) cover the costs of residential treatment at McLean?
The Ministry of Health of Ontario will pay for out-of-country care if specific criteria - including support from a Canadian doctor - are met. To learn more about what is required, please call our Canadian Patient Liaison toll free at 866-417-3322 or visit www.health.gov.on.ca/
What does treatment cost if OHIP will not cover it?
To discuss treatment costs, please call our Canadian Patient Liaison toll free at 866-417-3322.
Does McLean work with ministries in other provinces?
Yes. For more information or assistance, please call our Canadian Patient Liaison toll free at 866-417-3322.
What is the average length of stay?
The average length of stay is 4-6 weeks.
What is the age range of your patients?
McLean treats girls and young women between the ages of 13 and 23. Please note that our program is for females only.
How would I travel to McLean?
By car, approximate drive times to Boston from major cities in eastern Canada are as follows: Toronto - 8 hours, Montreal - 5 hours, Quebec - 6 hours, Ottawa - 7 hours, Halifax - 11 hours. By air, direct flights to Boston’s Logan International Airport are available from many Canadian cities. Once you land at Logan Airport, take a 25 minute taxi ride to McLean. For more information, visit the directions section here.
Is there a place near McLean for family members to stay?
Yes – local accommodations are listed here.
Please describe your treatment philosophy.
At McLean, treatment plans are specifically designed for each patient and at each level of care. Treatment is based on a contract with the patient, her family and McLean staff. The plans are continually reviewed and re-negotiated as needed.
What are the goals for treatment?
The goals for patients include enhancing self image and self esteem, developing skills to effectively manage problematic behaviors, improving interpersonal relationships, understanding the issues which underlie the eating disorders, developing healthy relationships with food and body and preparing to meet the challenges of life following discharge from the hospital. Our program is designed to support, educate and empower both patients and families.
What is McLean’s success rate for treating eating disorders?
Our treatment outcomes show a decrease in anxiety and depression when our patients leave, as well as behavioral changes and weight gain, where necessary. For more information, please visit the outcomes section on the homepage.
Are family members involved with treatment?
Family therapy is a mandatory part of the program. Canadian families may participate in person or by telephone.
Does McLean treat co-occurring psychiatric illnesses?
We are highly skilled at treating eating disorders that co-exist with other psychiatric conditions, including substance abuse, depression, trauma-related disorders and anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder. McLean offers specialized consultations for obsessive compulsive disorder and substance abuse, and older residents may attend specialized substance abuse groups. We have a wealth of experience in treating post traumatic stress disorder, which often accompanies eating disorders.
Does treatment include cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapy?
Yes – we provide group therapy involving cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy methods as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
In addition to nutritional therapy, is nutritional education provided?
Do you provide resources to help patients sustain healthy lifestyles after treatment?
Yes - a full aftercare plan will be in place upon discharge from McLean. The aftercare plan will include local outpatient treatment providers or referrals, as necessary.
Would McLean accept a patient with medical limitations beyond her eating disorder?
Yes, as long as she is medically stable. We evaluate each admission on a case-by-case basis.
Have other Canadians received treatment at McLean?
Yes – our patients come from many countries, including Canada.
Do patients interact with one another?
Yes - Many patients benefit from peer-to-peer interaction, particularly during group sessions and mealtimes.
What is the residential treatment environment like?
Residential patients eat, sleep and receive therapy in the Bowditch Building, which is reminiscent of a small college dormitory. The home includes a kitchen, a dining room, an art studio, and ample living space. You can see a photo of it on the homepage.
Do patients live in single rooms?
Most rooms accommodate 2 patients.
What are the meal times like?
Patients are given three meals and two snacks a day, all prepared by an onsite chef. Patients dine around a table as part of a group and are encouraged to focus on the social dimensions of eating. Food allergies and vegetarian diets can be accommodated.
What is the daily structure/routine like?
McLean offers more intensive therapy time than many other programs. In addition to daily group therapy, there is individual therapy 3 times a week and family therapy twice a week. Patients also meet with their psychiatrist twice a week. Yoga and pet therapy are available as well. A sample daily schedule is attached here.
How can my daughter make up for time missed at school?
While our first priority is the patient’s recovery, McLean recognizes the importance of academics and education. Our Clinical Educator is available to coordinate school work with the patient’s guidance counselor. Tutors are also available, if needed.
May patients bring cellular phones and laptops to McLean?
Residents may bring a cell phones without cameras, but all phones must be checked at the Nurses’ station and used only at scheduled times. McLean computers are available for educational use under strict staff supervision. Due to privacy concerns, patients may not visit Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites. Personal laptops are not allowed.
Will patients have opportunities to explore the city of Boston?
Off-campus excursions are limited to therapeutic group activities, such as restaurant outings. Patients may request therapeutic passes to Boston or Harvard Square when they feel ready.