Whole Health Approach to Patient Care

For those with eating disorders and psychiatric disorders, the road to recovery often has plenty of twists and turns, and unexpected detours.

For this reason, treatment should be designed to accommodate not only relapses, but breakthroughs. It should be adjusted to the patient, rather than expecting the patient to adjust to a single treatment program.

This is why Walden Behavioral Care developed its “whole health” approach to patient care. The “whole health” approach is based on the following:

Treating the Whole Person
Treating a single symptom is not enough. Walden treats the whole person, body and mind.

Eating disorders and psychiatric disorders are complex, and co-occurring disorders are common. Without appropriate and timely treatment, anorexia patients, for example, may develop severe medical complications resulting in damage to their heart, bones, kidneys, liver and brain.

Successful treatment requires a combination of medical, nutritional, behavioral and psychiatric care.

Recognizing That “What’s Wrong?” Often Has More Than One Answer
Patients with one disorder often have other disorders that require medical and psychiatric care. For example, it is common for a patient with an eating disorder to also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Some have obsessive compulsive disorder or practice self-harming behavior, such as cutting or burning themselves. Drug or alcohol addiction is also common among those with other disorders.

Unless co-occurring disorders are treated simultaneously, one disorder may worsen as the other improves. It takes an integrated model of care to treat co-occurring disorders successfully.

Working As A Team
Because of the complexity of the disorders we treat, a team approach is more effective than a single practitioner. Our teams include psychiatrists, family physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, psychologists, registered dieticians, social workers, occupational therapists, expressive arts therapists, educators, mental health workers and mind-body practitioners. Patients and their families are also a part of the treatment team because it is essential to have their involvement during the treatment and recovery process.

When a patient is considered for admission, the team reviews the patient’s information, provides an in-depth evaluation and designs a treatment plan specific to the patient. Upon admission, each patient is assigned a treatment team that often consists of a case manager, nurse and physician.

We also respect and appreciate the input of other professionals who currently work with the patient or have worked with them in the past. Continuing such relationships is often helpful, because it can improve the patient’s treatment and prospects for recovery.

Changing Treatment As the Patient Changes
As the patient progresses, treatment should progress as well. At Walden, care is continuously assessed and adjusted to achieve optimal results.

The chances of lasting recovery are improved significantly if the patient has an opportunity to progress along a “continuum of care,” rather than moving from inpatient hospital care with 24-hour supervision to full independence.

Walden is one of the first hospitals in the country to provide a full continuum of care for patients with eating disorders, including inpatient, residential, partial hosptilization and intensive outpatient care. We offer inpatient programs for our psychiatric patients.

Offering this range of treatment creates an opportunity to provide the treatment option that is best for the patient at any given time, whether the patient is just entering Walden or advancing toward recovery.

This approach also creates an opportunity for continuity. The better we get to know our patients, and the better they get to know us, the more effectively we can treat them.

Helping Patients Reclaim Their Lives
While we all share basic knowledge about the treatment of eating disorders and psychiatric disorders, every institution has its own ideas about how to treat its patients. We developed the “whole health” approach at Walden based on our many years of experience working with our patients.

By providing a welcoming environment, encouraging family involvement, treating the whole person and adjusting treatment as the patient changes, we help our patients achieve lasting recovery.

The “whole health” approach isn’t the easiest way to treat a patient. But we believe it’s the best way.