Let's face the tough stuff together.
The Balance Collective
Treatment for Eating Disorders
Eating disorders carry serious and sometimes fatal psychological and medical consequences. Notoriously challenging for families and treatment providers alike, few resources exist on the gulf coast for treatment. When resources do exist, they are often fragmented and parceled, resulting in contradictory advice and communications difficulties between providers.
Parents are often left with limited options and frequently are forced to leave the state to find treatment. This is disruptive to families lives and damaging to the normal developmental trajectory of the child suffering from the eating disorder. The Balance Collective is excited to present another option for families in the greater New Orleans area.
The first of its kind in Louisiana, we are a fully integrated, multidisciplinary, and evidenced-based approach to assessing and treating eating disorders.
We are theoretically based in Family-Based Treatment for Eating Disorders (FBT), also called The Maudsley Method. This treatment was initially designed at the Maudsley Hospital in London, England in the 1980's and later formally manualized by researchers and clinicians at Stanford University.
FBT is currently considered the gold-standard for care of children and adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa with multiple randomized controlled treatment trials (RCT's) published. Promising research also exists for treatment of Bulimia Nervosa and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).
At the Balance Collective, your family will receive care based in best practices and informed by the most up-to-date research. We are proud to practice as clinicians based in science. We know from our experiences with many children suffering through an eating disorder just how devastating the impacts can be and how hopeless families often feel when navigating treatment options. It is our goal that the Balance Collective can serve as a family-focused treatment center where your family can begin the recovery process and ultimately look forward to better days ahead.
Email Dr. Henke at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-833-6730
The Balance Collective is directed by psychologist Amy Henke, PsyD, who has worked with children and families in the New Orleans area for over a decade. After encountering a wide gap in family-based resources for eating disorders, she sought out training in FBT with the goal of bringing it to the New Orleans area.
Dr. Henke specializes in working with children and adolescents managing serious psychological difficulties along with co-morbid medical problems. The bulk of her training and clinical work has been in hospital settings, and she has served on the Eating Disorder Committee at Children's Hospital to design and implement best practice care while children are hospitalized due to an Eating Disorder.
She is also a trained yoga teacher who utilizes mindfulness and meditation in both her clinical work and her yoga.
Jacey Lutz, RD, LDN joined the practice after extensive work with families who have children hospitalized with severe eating disorders. She promotes a Health at Every Size (HAES) model of body acceptance, which serves as a complement to Family-Based Treatment for Eating Disorders.
Ms. Lutz also served with Dr. Henke on the Children's Hospital Eating Disorder Committee to provide her expertise in best practices in nutrition for children hospitalized due to an Eating Disorder.
Erin Adams, MD, serves as our Medical Director and is a family physician with years of experience working with adolescents struggling with co-morbid medical and mental health concerns. She is uniquely qualified to care for your child's medical safety and provide medication management if needed.
What is Family-Based Treatment?
Family-Based Treatment (FBT) is an evidence-based, outpatient treatment for Eating Disorders. This treatment is based in the belief that families have the tools they need to help their child recover from an eating disorder but benefit from guidance to apply their skills consistently and effectively in their fight against an eating disorder.
Inpatient hospitalization and residential treatments may be necessary and important tools for some children and adolescents. However, FBT believes that most families can be treated in their home environment, resulting in lower overall costs, and less social, family, and developmental disruption.
Many families wonder why it is necessary for the entire family to be involved in treatment. FBT is founded on the principle that while no one has caused the eating disorder to take over your family, the entire family can be part of the treatment. Parental support and structure is the integral mechanism of recovery and parents are asked to play a firm but loving role with their sick child.
Siblings have a unique part in FBT in providing their sick sibling support and distraction throughout treatment and letting them know they are not alone on their journey to recovery.
Other family members and caregivers are present as needed and depending on their day-to-day involvement with the sick child. Often, these family members can be a great source of support for children and adolescents, as well as a serving as another firm but loving adult.
Treatment typically takes place over 6-9 months and consists of 3 distinct phases in an outpatient setting.
Phase One focuses on weight restoration and medical stability. Parents take on the largest role in Phase One and the child suffering from the eating disorder no longer assumes responsibility for choices around food or exercise. Sometimes, inpatient hospitalization is needed if weight restoration is not occurring or the child is medically unstable and unsafe to begin outpatient treatment.
Phase Two is entered when a child is mostly weight restored and is eating easily with supervision and support from their parents. Because the overall goal of FBT is a return to normal adolescent functioning, Phase Two marks the beginning of the adolescent making some independent choices about food and returning to typical activities.
Phase Three is the final phase of treatment and often the shortest. This phase focuses on developmental tasks that may have been set aside while the family has been battling with an eating disorder. This is a time where many adolescents begin to address issues of independence, autonomy, and identity, as well as any lingering mental health concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I suspect my child has an eating disorder and our pediatrician is also worried and referred us to your program. What can my family expect from an initial evaluation with the Balance Collective?
An initial evaluation consists of a thorough and extensive assessment and diagnosis, followed by a family treatment plan with individualized recommendations based on your family’s unique circumstances. In order to fully understand and determine a best course of action, your child will receive an assessment from each of our specialists, including a medical assessment, nutrition evaluation, and psychological testing and interviews with both your child and your family.
Our group truly functions within a team framework and will conceptualize your care in a holistic way that takes into account all areas of health, with your child’s safety and recovery remaining paramount. At the conclusion of the evaluation, your family will receive feedback from the entire team and a written treatment plan, where you can decide your next steps for recovery.
Q: My family received an evaluation through the Balance Collective, and we want to pursue treatment. What’s next?
The Balance Collective provides Family-Based Treatment for Eating Disorders in a collaborative setting where your family will work regularly with all disciplines. Depending on the nature of your child’s difficulties, we may also recommend treatments varying from individual therapies to nutrition consultation to ongoing follow up and monitoring with our physician.
Q: We already know our child has an eating disorder. Should we still seek an initial evaluation?
Yes. Even if your child has already been diagnosed, our team will need to fully assess her medical safety to begin treatment and better understand any co-morbid psychological difficulties that are also present. We want families to begin treatment with a full clinical picture of their child’s psychological and medical well-being and we believe that the only way to do this is through our initial comprehensive evaluation.
Q: My child is currently in residential treatment but does not have follow-up scheduled for after they are discharged. Is the Balance Collective an appropriate post-residential treatment referral?
Yes. Children often do well in residential treatment only to regress when they return home and are in their normal environment. It can be challenging to maintain gains made in residential without strong follow up and support. Treatment provided in the Balance Collective can serve as a strong relapse prevention tool and help your child to generalize skills they learned during a residential stay to their normal life.
Q: Our family is trying to decide between treatments. We have been accepted to a residential program but have also read about the success rates of FBT. How do we choose?
The research on FBT is strong and convincing – children and adolescents with eating disorders can have similar levels of recovery compared to those who attend residential programs – but at a lower cost to families with significantly less life disruption. While significant commitment is required of families who participate in outpatient treatment, there are many reasons to consider FBT as an initial treatment. Aside from cost and limiting the disruptive nature of hospitalization, outpatient treatment allows for generalizability in the home setting. This generalizability is often lost when a child returns from residential treatment and families may see regression following discharge. The current research suggests that if FBT is an available option in your area, families should consider it as an aggressive and effective front-line treatment.
Q: Does my insurance cover the services at The Balance Collective?
We understand that the financial aspect of treatment can be stressful. Our goal is to work with you and your family to help make treatment accessible and possible. Do not let the stresses of paying for treatment stop you from reaching out, we are here to help you discuss options and find a financial plan that allows you to focus on recovery. We accept insurance for some aspects of our program but the majority of our services are self-pay. This enables us to offer the best quality of care rather than have our treatment protocol dictated by an insurance company. Helping our clients afford treatment however is important to us. We are pleased to report that many of our clients have been able to access out-of-network benefits to cover some of their treatment in our program.