Klarman Eating Disorders Center Expands Services and Celebrates 20 Years

October 23, 2023

As the Klarman Eating Disorders Center at McLean celebrates two decades of providing highly specialized care for teens and women living with eating disorders, program leadership is excited about recent expansions to its residential and day treatment programs.

“In addition to the Klarman Center’s 20-bed residential unit, we’ve recently re-opened our partial hospital program, which can serve as a step-down for some individuals who may need additional support after their residential stay,” said David Alperovitz, PsyD, Klarman’s program director.

“The staff is enormously excited about the program. It’s been a ton of work, but there’s an energy here that is palpable.”

Founded with the generous support of the Klarman Family Foundation, the treatment program provides world-class eating disorders care for young adults, including cisgender women, transgender women, and non-binary individuals, ages 18 to 28.

As part of its recent updates, the program has shifted from a privileges-focused model to a step model, concentrating on increasing patients’ independence and personal responsibility around food-related issues.

Individual and family therapy are also integral parts of all care. Klarman patients meet with an individual therapist three times a week, and with a family therapist at least once individually and once or twice weekly with their family members.

“The program is comprehensive. Both patients and staff are working hard day in and day out to help bridge recovery and participants’ re-engagement with meaningful activities in life that may have been impacted by the eating disorder,” said Alperovitz.

World-Class Eating Disorders Care

Two women talk outside

The Klarman Eating Disorders Center is the premier destination for young women and non-binary individuals seeking residential and partial hospital treatment for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

Two women talk outside

The Crucial Role of the Dietitian

Another central tenet of the program is the crucial role of the dietitian. Dietitians differ from nutritionists. Dietitians have a specialized degree in the field, go through supervised practice, and must pass a board exam.

“In other programs, the role of the dietitian may not be as highly emphasized. At Klarman, they are viewed as a crucial part of the care team,” Alperovitz said.

The program has always had two dietitians on staff and now has three, including nationally acclaimed lead dietitian Jaimie Winkler, LDN.

Winkler, who trained as a journalist and worked in publishing before getting her degree as a dietitian, says that while she is certified as an eating disorders clinical supervisor, she prefers to think of herself as a behavioral health dietitian—to honor that eating disorders don’t exist in isolation from other mental and physical health concerns.

“An eating disorder is often a small part of somebody’s story. There are other co-occurring disorders that impact how somebody feeds themselves,” Winkler said.

“For example, for many people with ADHD, their eating disorder may not be about weight or mastery over food, but about building executive functioning skills, and learning to prioritize food preparation and eating into the scaffolding of their day.”

Young person talks to clinicians

Since joining the Klarman team, Winkler has also revamped the in-house food program.

“Jaimie has been central in revising our food and meal plans. We have transitioned to cooking all our own meals, with shopping excursions to purchase ingredients in the community,” said Alperovitz.

“We’re involving the patients in the food preparation, with a cooking group every night and some baking groups during the week. These are usually led by a dietitian, and they foster a sense of accomplishment for the individuals in the program.”

This approach is important, Winkler said, because it can provide those in the program both a sense of achievement and a personal connection to what it means to have a healthier relationship with food.

“They can say, ‘Now I see it,’” said Winkler. “Even if they continue to struggle, they’ll still have the experience and memories gained while they were here.”

Added Alperovitz, “For some of our patients, food preparation is exposure therapy. For those individuals, the ‘exposure’ is the meal itself.”

Having the staff and patients prepare and eat meals together is also an important part of the program, both Alperovitz and Winkler said.

“It helps with understanding the true food quality to have the staff eating with the residents,” said Winkler. “It’s been helpful to have that experience.”

Treating the Whole Person

Klarman has a strong reputation as an eating disorders crisis intervention program, yet the center also provides trauma-informed care for those across the spectrum of eating disorders.

“We work with medically precarious patients, of course, but people also come to—or come back to—the Klarman Center at different points in their journey,” Winkler said.

“People recover from an eating disorder but often return to anxiety, depression, or trauma that predates the eating disorder. We adapt relapse prevention for the patients’ needs. Those who are ready for more independence with food may also work on building skills across the diagnostic spectrum.”

She added, “We create space for change. People can arrive and make the choices they need to make changes that will improve their health.”

If you or a loved one needs help to manage an eating disorder, contact us today at 617.855.3410.

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