Professor Janet Treasure led a ‘tour de force’ 11th Newbridge Masterclass for delegates from eating disorders services across the UK and Ireland.

The focus of the Masterclass was on collaborative care, exploring the formulation of eating disorders and carer self-management approaches.

Professor Treasure is internationally recognised for her work at the Maudsley Hospital and King’s College, London and her extensive research, having authored more than 600 scientific articles.

“Janet is a prime example of someone who brings science and clinical work together because this is where her work is based,” said Professor Hubert Lacey, Director of Research at Newbridge House.

“She has trained a generation of psychologists and psychiatrists and, as well as formal research programmes, Janet has worked with carers to co-produce innovative self-help interventions.”

The Masterclass, which took place on July 17 at New Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield, commenced with a session considering the formulation of eating disorders. Professor Treasure said although some models emphasise solutions over cause, she believes it is critical to establish a clear and detailed formulation.

“I do believe this is important, so everyone – the team, the individual and their carers – can have a shared understanding of cause and knowledge of where we are going with treatment.”

Janet introduced a formulation based on: predisposing, precipitating and maintaining factors to build a cognitive interpersonal model for the individual. This included understanding of what is currently known about heritability and genetic correlations and how personality traits such as rigidity can act as both precipitating and maintaining factors.

The second session considered the profound and multiple interpersonal effects of eating disorders and how these can either act as maintaining factors or support recovery. There was discussion of the different approaches carers take and how they may perceive themselves as taking a nurturing, caring stance, but in fact have become coerced into maintaining the condition.

Splitting (between parents, between treatment team and family) was widely explored.

Carer self-management is essential. “There is no right or wrong and carers won’t be perfect; they need to avoid being caught up by a need for perfection,” said Professor Treasure. “We encourage carers to consider their own support network. Often, they are caring all of the time but demonstrating self-care is a very important skill to show the child.

One practical technique is to ask carers to write down three people within their support network and how specifically they can provide support.

There was exploration of the critical but challenging skills carers need to employ: advanced communication, high levels of empathy and conflict avoidance.

“We want carers to be able to facilitate conversation and to support them to have high levels of self-awareness. We say to carers – you can’t control your child, only yourself, but through the changes you make, you can positively improve the interpersonal environment.”

Concluding the day, Professor Lacey said: “This has been a most memorable Masterclass; a true tour de force.

“What has come across to me is your warmth and humanity, your unique ability to synthesise down and to use analogy to imprint so much detail on our collective memories.”

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