Fairhaven News & Updates

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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Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

February 5th, 2018

By Dr. Teri McCann, PhD, CEDS

Circumstances that precede the development of an eating disorder can often be considered warning signs. While the two are related, it’s important to distinguish the differences. Some conditions may create an environment of heightened risk; however, knowing what signs to be aware of may help you determine if your loved one is in need of help.

It’s important to mention that there is a great deal of evidence to show that some people have a genetic predisposition to developing eating disorder. Some personality types, such as those with perfectionism or those diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may be predisposed to rely on disordered eating as a coping mechanism.

The National Eating Disorders Association lists several warning signs, including:

  • Changes in personality. Mood swings, irritability, depression or even showing a lack of emotion can be a sign of something more serious. For example, isolating oneself may be a way of avoiding social eating, and sticking to a strict work-out regimen, such as exercising even when sick or injured can indicate dependence.
  • Changes in their relationship to food. This may seem obvious, but pay attention to drastic changes in eating patterns, such as eliminating entire food groups, adhering to strict fad diets, eating in secret or disappearing after meals.

Eating disorders serve as a protector from the unbearable emotions caused by experiencing complex trauma, often called attachment trauma. In my practice, I’ve often seen clients show relief and gratitude once you acknowledge that malnutrition caused by their relationship with food was physically preventing them from addressing these emotions, and therefore was serving as a protector. The numbing qualities of an eating disorder disguise the absence of pain as comfort.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. However, recovery is possible, and early detection and intervention can help people to reclaim their joy and live life to the fullest.

If you have noticed any of these signs or feel concern based on the environment for a loved one, reach out to one of the experts at Fairhaven Treatment Center.

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Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

January 30th, 2018

Eating Disorder Misconceptions

By Dr. Teri McCann, PhD, CEDS

Starting treatment for an eating disorder takes courage. It is a life-saving decision that is often delayed due to fear of judgment from misconceptions.

Here are the most common misconceptions about eating disorders and the best ways to combat them.

  • Developing an eating disorder is a choice, and you can simply make a decision to “stop.” An eating disorder is not just an extreme diet—or one that can be switched off in a moment. Eating disorders are often preceded by a condition called disordered eating, which serves as a coping mechanism from trauma experienced in life.
  • Only people of a certain background or population are likely to suffer from eating disorders. This is simply not true. Women and men of all different ages, backgrounds and demographics can be subjected to trauma and life experiences that can lead to disordered eating.
  • You can cure an eating disorder by treating the symptoms or through symptom control. This is a potentially dangerous assumption that often leads to relapse. The only way to recover from an eating disorder is by addressing the root cause—often trauma or a horrific event. At Fairhaven Treatment Center, the best intervention is therapy that helps the client find a way to reclaim their joy in life.
  • All eating disorders are either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Although these are the two most referenced eating disorders, binge eating disorder is actually the most common in America. As opposed to bulimia, which involves purging or using laxatives, and anorexia, which is characterized by self-starvation, binge eating disorder is often manifested by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, then feeling a loss of control and shame and regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.

When someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to treat them with dignity and compassion, and not belittle their struggle based on a preconceived notion of what an eating disorder is or may appear to be.

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

Teri McCann, PhD, LP, CEDS
Founder and Executive Clinical Director
Fairhaven Treatment Center

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