Clinical Mentors: A Bridge to Recovery

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2001 Volume 12, Number 5
©2001 Gürze Books

At an Israeli eating disorders treatment center, adding clinical mentors to an intensive care multidisciplinary treatment team has enabled patients to receive a high degree of care while remaining in the community.

The clinical mentors at the Sachet-Eating Disorders Intensive Treatment Center, Rehovet, Israel, are social workers, art therapists, and graduate-level psychology students trained to connect with clients in an informal but intensive manner, for 10 to 40 hours a week. The mentors help patients work on regaining healthy attitudes about food, eating, and life in general, while dealing with the pain and loss associated with the disorder. They accompany patients as meal companions and are described as “calming figures.”

Drs. M. Golan and T. Gogol-Ostrowsky report that the relationship that develops between the mentor and patient diminishes the isolation eating disorders patients usually experience. The mentors get involved in most areas of the patient’s life, and help them examine other possibilities for themselves.

The two researchers recently reported the results of their 2.5-year experience with 17 patients who participated in the clinical mentor program (Harefuah 2001;140:487; [in Hebrew]). At the end of the study, the researchers assessed body mass index and general outcome (Eckert scales) of all the patients.

Most patients recovered

Seventeen patients, who had been ill for 6 or more years, completed the program. One year after completing the program, 76% of the patients were defined as recovered and 12% were close to recovery (defined as having only a few remaining symptoms). All patients were able to function well in the community, both socially and at work. Six percent were judged to be partially recovered, and 6% regressed during the first year of follow-up. The authors note that the clinical mentor program allows clinicians to provide the same intensive treatment inpatient care provides, but enables patients to remain in the community and to maintain those activities that survive the disorder.

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