EDSolutions at Cornerstone Day School is the only eating disorders treatment program in a therapeutic day school in New Jersey. Eating disorders are highly complex illnesses with both medical and psychiatric components that greatly impact a young person on every level by creating severe social, emotional and academic challenges.
EDSolutions provides treatment for the full range of significant eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa (food restriction), bulimia nervosa (purging behaviors) and binge eating disorder.
The unique advantage of EDSolutions is that an adolescent receives complete eating disorders treatment within the full Cornerstone Experience school day without giving up academic, social or extra-curricular activities. Our students also get to live at home with family and maintain local friendships instead of having to go to a residential school or hospital.
EDSolutions full eating disorders treatment service includes specialized group and individual therapy, family therapy, psychoeducation, consultation with a registered dietician/nutritionist, supervised lunch and customized yoga and art classes with an emphasis on body, mind and wellness. Additionally, collaborative care with medical and other professionals is ensured for every student. Parents are also offered the opportunity to participate in specialized parent support, education and coaching group sessions that greatly help them better understand and manage their child’s struggles.
Not Just an Eating Disorder
There is a high correlation between eating disorders and a host of other mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, PTSD, personality disorders, social withdrawal and self-harming behaviors. Multiple sources have documented the alarmingly high co-occurrence of ED and other mental health diagnoses, including one study of more than 2400 individuals hospitalized for an eating disorder, which found that 97% had one or more co-occurring conditions, including 94% with co-occurring mood disorders, and 56% with co-occurring anxiety disorders. Another study found that 50% of teens with eating disorders also suffer from depression.
As the leader in providing mental health care to vulnerable students, Cornerstone is especially well-equipped to address the full range of psychiatric concerns that typically coexist with eating disorder symptoms. A holistic, mind-body approach is used to help students improve their functioning and emotional well-being regardless of how their ED and psychiatric symptoms manifest.
Students enrolled in Cornerstone’s EDSolutions receive a minimum of weekly individual therapy, multiple daily group therapies, and ongoing family therapy, all focused on eating disorders and any present emotional challenges. The clinical staff who work with these students have highly specialized training and experience in treating eating disorders, as well as extensive experience in treating a broad range of child/adolescent psychiatric disorders.
The components of Cornerstone’s EDSolutions program include:
Mind-Body-Wellness Therapy for Students
Our therapeutic approach is holistic, with interventions that target mind, body, and overall wellness.
- Interventions for the Mind include individual counseling and therapeutic groups to practice self-regulation, problem-solving, and social skills; to learn about nutrition and healthy eating patterns; and to develop insight about factors that contribute to disordered eating, including perfectionism, low self-esteem, body image distortions, vulnerability to media images and social pressures, and family stressors.
- Interventions for the Body include yoga practice, mindfulness exercises, and a variety of mindful movement activities.
- Interventions for overall Wellness include regularly monitoring weight and vital signs by the school nurse and monitoring labs and psychiatric medications by the school’s medical director. Students are followed by their primary care physicians and Cornerstone’s team collaborates with the PCP and other outpatient providers as needed.
- The EDSolutions program uses a variety of expressive interventions, including therapeutic art and music therapy to help students increase self-awareness, decrease stress, and develop alternative ways to express difficult thoughts and feelings.
- Art and music activities are also integrated within individual psychotherapy and group therapy experiences to support and facilitate these modalities.
Family Support, Education, and Coaching
Eating disorders do not only affect the individual; they impact the entire family, and families play an essential role in helping to restore the student’s health and balance.
- Families participate in weekly therapy with a focus on exploring the impact and challenges associated with eating disorders and other co-occurring conditions. Family therapy also fosters healthy family structures and helps to improve communication and strengthen relationships, all of which are critical components of relapse prevention.
- Parent groups that offer support and psychoeducation on eating disorders are also offered twice monthly. Parents are encouraged to discuss the impact of the student’s eating disorder on the family and to share experiences and strategies to help their children get well.
Individual nutritional counseling and a weekly nutrition education group are offered by a registered dietician (RD)/nutritionist to help students normalize their relationship with food and with their bodies.
- Meal Support is offered as needed daily during lunch and snack times, including in vivo exposure to food-related challenges and skills practice under the supervision of trained staff.
- Nutrition Counseling with a registered dietician includes individualized nutrition education, meal planning, and support for all students and their families.
Interdisciplinary Collaborative Care
Cornerstone ensures effective interdisciplinary collaboration to reach the highest level of care and to support each student’s recovery. Ongoing collaboration occurs between Cornerstone’s EDSolutions program staff (Primary Clinician, RD, Psychiatrist, and Nurse) and outpatient providers, including the student’s pediatrician, registered dietitian, and other therapists working with the family. Besides ensuring that all aspects of eating disorder treatment are addressed, collaborative care also helps to support a smooth transition.
As with all students at Cornerstone, therapeutic services are built into the school day and academics are not sacrificed in favor of clinical treatment.
- Cornerstone’s curriculum, instructional practices, and support services provide the full spectrum of academics necessary for a quality education in a safe, structured learning environment.
- Academically advanced students participate in accelerated classes, including honors and advanced placement courses, and can take college classes on the UCUC campus or with UCUC visiting professors at CDS.
- Students participating in the EDSolutions program can address the challenges associated with their eating disorders and other psychiatric challenges while continuing to receive academic instruction without the need to be removed from the school setting.
The goal of Cornerstone’s eating disorders program is to help students improve their relationship with food and with their bodies while learning adaptive skills that will allow them to reintegrate into the mainstream cafeteria and therapeutic groups at CDS. The point and level systems that indicate a student’s readiness to return to the district or transfer to a less therapeutic school are also utilized with EDSolutions students.