Fairhaven News & Updates

Compassion Supports Recovery

April 17th, 2018

When people struggle with an eating disorder, they often experience high levels of shame and self-criticism. Actively practicing techniques of self-compassion can be beneficial in eating disorder recovery.

What is self-compassion? 
Self-compassion is directing the loving kindness shown to others and to yourself. Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, has defined self-compassion as recognizing that you are suffering in a moment or situation, and being kind and understanding toward yourself.

From her studies, she identified three core elements of self-compassion:

  1. Kindness: When we are suffering is when we most need to be kind to ourselves.
  2. Shared Humanity: You are not alone in your suffering.
  3. Mindful Awareness: When we meet our most challenging thoughts and emotions with curiosity (mindfulness) instead of judgment, we don’t over-identify with them or become consumed by them.

Compassion Focused Therapy for Eating Disorders (CFT-E)
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) was first developed to target self-criticism and shame, as they were identified as key components of a number of mental health disorders. 

CFT trains our minds (Compassionate Mind Training) to help us experience compassion, develop various aspects of compassion for ourselves and others, improve our abilities to self-soothe, and to foster the courage and wisdom we need to cope with difficult life events, memories or emotions.

CFT-E is designed to develop the compassionate self and use it to:

  • Develop sensitivity, awareness and understanding regarding the way eating and emotions have become linked.
  • Develop empathy for the self and the problems that the eating disorder may have tried to solve, as well as the unintended consequences of these attempts.
  • Develop wisdom around the challenges of recovery.
  • Develop motivation to care for the self in a way that is in one's own best interests and therefore commit to engage in recovery.
  • Develop the confidence and courage needed to offer understanding, support, advice and encouragement to the self. (Goss & Allan, 2010, 2011)

Gentle, self-led compassion for the pain and suffering, and the gratitude for strategies that made life bearable at the time, are recognized in the course of therapy at Fairhaven. The journey of realizing that these extreme behaviors are no longer needed (in cases where they are not) and that the client can reclaim her joy is our goal. 

You are not your eating disorder. Your eating disorder developed to protect you from severe emotional pain. Where self-loathing and disgust existed, there is a now a window with a small opening looking out toward self-compassion. 

When you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to treat them with dignity and compassion. If you’d like to talk to someone about eating disorders, contact a specialist or a counselor at Fairhaven Treatment Center today.


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What is Body Dysmorphia?

April 10th, 2018

Every day, most of us look in the mirror several times to check our appearance. Most probably struggle with some negative self-talk when looking in the mirror - thinking various thoughts that chip away at self-confidence. But those thoughts typically last for a few minutes, and then drift away as focus shifts to the activities of the day. 

People with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) think about their real or perceived flaws for hours each day, causing them severe emotional distress and interfering with their daily lives. Research shows it affects men and women almost equally and occurs in approximately 1 in 50 people in the general population of the United States.  

  • BDD often begins to occur in adolescents 12-13 years of age (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It typically surfaces during adolescence and is characterized by obsessive thinking about a flaw that is imagined or, if real, hardly noticeable. Those with BDD compulsively check their perceived flaw and take excessive precautions to hide from others so it will go unnoticed. 
  • BDD is preoccupation with one specific body part. The perceived flaw can happen anywhere on the body, but the most common places are hair, skin, stomach, nose, chin and chest. 
  • BDD is not self-obsession. Self-obsession is the state of being interested in oneself, one's happiness, motivations and interests to the exclusion of other things and is characterized by an exaggerated love of self. Those with BDD feel ashamed of their appearance and suffer from a serious mental illness that affects how they view themselves.
  • The thoughts caused by BDD are difficult to control and disrupt daily life. 
    Individuals with BDD spend an average of 3-8 hours per day thinking about their perceived flaw and doing what they can to hide or change it. It's difficult to focus on important tasks, affects performance at work or school, and causes social isolation.
  • Body Dysmorphia may accompany an eating disorder, but it's important to note that they are two separate disorders. BDD focus on a specific body part, whereas an eating disorder is more generalized to shape and weight concerns. To be diagnosed with an eating disorder eating must be impaired. A diagnosis for BDD states that the individual is overly concerned or convinced that they are misshapen or deformed even though the physician finds either no abnormality at all or, if one is present, a trivial abnormality that would typically go unnoticed.

If you'd like to talk to someone about BDD or an eating disorder, contact a specialist or a counselor at Fairhaven Treatment Center today. 

The goal of the treatment team at Fairhaven is to help clients realize they have the strength within themselves to achieve healthy connectedness, both personally and with others. This process of self-discovery helps our clients reclaim the joy in their lives. We use proven evidence-based therapy for eating disorder symptoms and co-occurring problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma and attachment disorder, a history of addiction or substance use disorder, as well as other challenges that contribute to and perpetuate the disorder. 



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McCann Launches Nonprofit Eating Disorders Association

March 28th, 2018

Teri Hardister McCann, founder and executive director of Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders, has launched the Mid-South Eating Disorders Association, a nonprofit organization for treatment providers seeking to build community, access educational opportunities, and build awareness of treatment options for eating disorders. McCann serves as the founding president of MSEDA.

At Fairhaven, McCann provides clinical and managerial supervision for a 13-bed residential treatment center and outpatient facility for adult and adolescent females with an eating disorders diagnosis, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Hometown: Cordova (but I live in Germantown)

Experience: McCann earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Kansas State University and master’s in counseling from Mississippi State University. While at Kansas State University, Teri completed her dissertation in Children’s Food Cognitions, identifying early signs of disordered eating behaviors in adolescent males and females.

McCann’s work experience includes private practice work with adolescent and adult populations with eating disorder diagnoses, emotional trauma and related comorbidities. She has served as a director of eating disorder programs, ultimately leading to founding her own treatment facility dedicated to women with symptoms of eating disorders and complex trauma. In 2014, McCann opened Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders, the Mid-South’s only residential and outpatient treatment facility specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

What is the purpose of the Mid-South Eating Disorders Association? The MSEDA mission is to empower the treatment community of the Mid-South by providing networking opportunities, education, awareness and access to resources to address the needs of patients, clients, students and families struggling with eating disorders and related conditions.

What was the impetus for starting the organization? Eating disorders are underdiagnosed and undertreated in most communities, including the Mid-South. Many people – including treatment professionals – often consider an eating disorder to be a lifestyle decision or a relatively benign condition that can be managed with a low level of intervention. Those treatment professionals that take on the treatment of this complex, chronic and deadly disease often feel alone in the treatment community, due to the lack of resources that are available or knowledge of other treatment professionals that can collaborate to build an adequate treatment approach.

MSEDA is intended to be that organization that treatment professionals – doctors, nurses, dietitians, behavioral health professionals, school counselors, dentists, physical therapists and more – can network to build collaborative treatment approaches for a disease that requires a multidisciplinary treatment approach.

You’ve mentioned eating disorders are a complex condition. How can an interdisciplinary approach help treat those struggling with EDs? The notion of an “eating disorder” being a deadly disease is often hard to conceptualize. In fact, the mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illnesses, and over 12 times higher than that for people without eating disorders (Smink, F.E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H.W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(4), 406-414.).

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends evidence-based treatment from a coordinated treatment team that specializes in eating disorders treatment and incudes these interventions: medical stabilization, nutritional rehabilitation, pharmacotherapy and psychosocial treatment.

What’s one thing you wish the public better understood about eating disorders? Many people consider an eating disorder to be a lifestyle decision or a choice. While there can be those that have symptoms of “disordered eating,” and these symptoms should be addressed, a true eating disorder is a very serious behavioral and medical condition that can have long-term implications that can include irreversible end-organ damage and complications that can lead to premature death.

If someone reading this is struggling with an ED, or perhaps has a friend or family member who is, where can they find resources to get help? The good news is that there are several organizations across the country that provide professional and comprehensive treatment advice for eating disorders. The National Association for Eating Disorders (nationaleatingdisorders.org) is a consumer-oriented website that provides education and guidance on seeking treatment for yourself or helping someone you care for that is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder. The Alliance for Eating Disorders (allianceforeatingdisorders.com/portal) provides a comprehensive tool for treatment options across the U.S. for all types of patients that are seeking treatment interventions, including males, adolescents and the transgender patient.

Fairhaven Treatment Center is also a resource for treatment providers and families in the Mid-South. As part of our mission, if we are not the right place for you, we are well-networked in the national treatment community and can help you find services either in the Mid-South or across the country.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? By far my greatest accomplishment is taking part in molding and developing my three wonderful children into the curious, compassionate and courageous adults they are today. After that, I am proud of my contribution to the Mid-South community in bringing a comprehensive and unique treatment program to a part of the country that has a significant unmet need for a complex and often misunderstood disease.

What do you most enjoy about your work? I love my clients. Every day I look forward to interacting with them, seeing their recovery and helping them face their challenges. The more tedious part of my role is the administrative duties and the responsibility of owning and running a business. But group therapy and individual time with my clients is truly my life’s purpose and the place where I feel most connected to my best self.

If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? My own children would tell you that I could never limit myself to one piece of advice. That being said, I encourage young people to celebrate being their own unique self. Young people have worth for who they are as individuals, not what they accomplish or how they perform, but for the unique characteristics only they possess. That fact is important to remember in a world filled with pressure to conform to others’ expectations.

The Mid-South Eating Disorders Association has also named its board of directors. McCann is founding president. Dr. Michelle Bowden, an adolescent medicine physician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, is MSEDA’s vice president. Angie Wallick, a registered dietician and a nutrition therapist with Memphis Nutrition Group, is secretary. And Kristen Hoover, program manager at Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders and a national certified counselor, is treasurer.

This article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.

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Mid-South Eating Disorders Association Announces Board, Hosts Inaugural Meeting

February 26th, 2018

Mid-South Eating Disorders Association

The Mid-South Eating Disorders Association (MSEDA) has announced its formation and board of directors, as well as its inaugural meeting on Thursday, March 1. MSEDA was formed as a community resource dedicated to the education, treatment and networking for all eating disorders treatment providers.

"An eating disorder is a complex and chronic condition that can easily be misdiagnosed or, more often, undiagnosed," said Teri McCann, Ph.D., CEDS, and MSEDA co-founder and board member. "Treatment providers who devote some or all of their practice to treating eating disorders are rare and likely unaware of others who work with the ED community. We are pleased to have a dedicated professional organization to build community among treatment professionals in the Mid-South, which will improve our ability to provide comprehensive solutions for those struggling with this devastating illness." 

MSEDA is open to all behavioral health counselors, nutrition specialists, medical professionals, school/college counselors and interested treatment providers who seek to build community, awareness of treatment resources, and understanding of the complex needs of those dealing with eating disorders. The organization is proud to have a strong board of directors with widespread knowledge of the specifics of ED treatments, including McCann; Michelle Bowden, MD; and Angie Wallick, MS, RDN, CSR, LDN.

McCann is the founder and executive clinical director of Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy at Kansas State University, is a licensed psychologist, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Certified Eating Disorders Specialist. In addition to holding a Mental Health Service Provider designation, she has demonstrated competency in the areas of social-personality psychology and statistics and measurement. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee and the Academy for Eating Disorders.

Bowden, an assistant professor at University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Adolescent Medicine Physician at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, will lead MSEDA's effort to provide education and awareness for eating disorders in adolescents. Eating disorders can develop at a young age, and Bowden's role will be to offer knowledge and educational resources to help both treatment providers and parents recognize symptoms early on.

Wallick is a nutrition therapist with Memphis Nutrition Group, devoting a portion of her practice to the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. She is a member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP) and a member of the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians (IFEDD).

"What a wonderful opportunity for professionals who provide eating disorder treatment to come together as a community," said Wallick. "With MSEDA, I believe this can strengthen our interdisciplinary collaboration when caring for clients, increase our professional growth with learning opportunities and expand our professional network. I am honored to be a part of this group."

The inaugural MSEDA meeting will be held Thursday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. at Embassy Suites Memphis. The agenda includes:

  • Launching the MSEDA organization
  • Introducing the MSEDA board of directors, mission and charter
  • Establishing the basic goals and direction for MSEDA
  • Education and awareness agenda tied to IAEDP, AED, NEDA/BEDA national conferences

For more information or to register, contact MSEDA Director Suzanne Horsley at shorsley@fairhaventc.com.

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Intervention Methods for Eating Disorders

February 12th, 2018

Intervention Methods for Eating Disorders

By Dr. Teri McCann, PhD, CEDS

Every path to recovery is different, no matter your disease. Regardless of which tactical method works best for you, the most important thing to remember on the journey to recovery is that compassion is crucial, and healing is not a linear process. 

Below is a list of some of the most effective methods we've found in treating eating disorders, along with a brief explanation of each. 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a solutions-focused therapy that encourages patients to challenge their thinking patterns and change the destructive behavior that results from it. This often happens in a one-on-one environment or a group setting. 
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS) Model. The IFS model has evolved into a comprehensive approach that includes guidelines for working with individuals, couples and families. It represents a synthesis of two paradigms: systems thinking and the multiplicity of the mind. Psychology Today stated that many of these "sub-personalities consist of wounded parts and painful emotions… that try to control and protect the person from the pain of the wounded parts." The IFS Model focuses on healing the wounded parts to restore a healthy perspective within every aspect of the client's attitude or personality.
  • Trauma-focused or trauma-sensitive yoga is a form of evidence-based therapy that has shown to be particularly helpful to teens in residential treatment programs, as well as military veterans suffering from complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The classes are geared toward the specific needs of the client and focus on the relationship between trauma and the body and the unique ways yoga can help encourage healing
  • Narrative therapy is a way to separate the person from the problem, and often involves the client imagining their lives independent of their eating disorder. 

At Fairhaven, we understand that each of these methods can greatly improve the lives of our clients; however, we pride ourselves on finding the unique combination of these and other methods in order to treat the individuals that trust their healing to us. 

Our priority is not just symptom control, but rather long-term recovery. By getting past symptom control and accessing emotional truth, our clients are able to heal their trauma and reclaim their joy in life. 

If you'd like to talk to someone about an eating disorder, contact a specialist or a counselor at Fairhaven Treatment Center today.

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