Newbridge

Newbridge’s unique support for families highlighted at national conference

Newbridge specialists gave a very well received presentation on Working with families at a national eating disorders conference.

Organised by the charity Beat, the two-day conference was entitled Eating disorders: support for the frontline and considered the complex challenges faced by affected individuals, their families and the professionals treating them.

Newbridge House was represented by Deputy Clinical Manager Natalie Maley and Gill Williams, Parent Practitioner, who described the Programme for Parents, a practical course we provide in addition to family therapy, family liaison and Parent and Carers’ Group.

“The Programme for Parents is very practical: it is about the parental experience of having a child with an eating disorder, about how to manage meal times and food shopping, guidance on how to communicate with your child.

“It is something which we developed at Newbridge six years ago and have continuously refined what we offer to meet the needs of parents and carers.”

Natalie and Gill described the programme to the Beat conference, explaining the key themes: introduction to eating disorders and experiences as a parent, parenting a young person with an eating disorder, motivational interviewing, coaching and practical tips and parenting a well sibling.

The programme considers parents’ perspective on the eating disorder: how a blame-based perspective is backward looking and negative, whereas a responsibility-based perspective supports a positive sense of taking control in the ‘here and now’.

It also highlights the risk of “splitting”: when the eating disorder has a destructive impact upon the relationship between parents (or between the parents and their child’s eating disorder service) and how a split allows the eating disorder to continue.

The programme also reflects on parenting a child with an eating disorder: how people can lose confidence in their ability to parent and relationships are harmed. Parents are encouraged to find some emotional and psychological distance from the eating disorder.

Natalie Maley commented: “We were really pleased to be involved with this conference which was all about the tough, complex issues families face and how to support parents and carers in practical, effective ways.

“We are really proud of the range of family support we provide at Newbridge, reflected in Gill’s post as Parent Practitioner, a role dedicated wholly to linking with families and ensuring they are continuously supported.”