FAQ for parents and guardians

FAQ for parents and guardians

SWEDA understands that eating disorders have a big impact on the close contacts of those with the eating disorder and this is especially true of parents/carers. Being concerned that your child has or is developing an eating disorder or poor body image can be very distressing and SWEDA is here to support parents and guardians, as well as the child or young person.

Eating disorders are often hard to detect in a child/young person as, by their very nature, they are often kept hidden. Some indicators that you child is struggling with their eating and body image are*:

  • A change in their weight or shape
  • Becoming fixated on their body image, weight or shape
  • Becoming withdrawn or quiet
  • Feeling low, worthless and / or disliking their body
  • Feeling tired / lethargic / cold / dizzy or fainting
  • Wanting to hide their body behind loose or baggy clothing
  • Not wanting to eat in front of other people
  • Wanting to know the content of different foods eg number of calories/how much fat/sugar is in it
  • Regularly going for long periods of time without eating or not being honest about what they have eaten
  • Disappearing to the bathroom after a meal
  • Eating in secret
  • Eating a lot of food in a short amount of time
  • Exercising excessively and feeling distressed if they are not able to do so

*Please note that this is not a complete or comprehensive list, nor is it a diagnostic tool. 

SWEDA offers a range of different levels of support, aimed at meeting the needs of the child or young person. There are several different pathways that might be offered, and we try to tailor the support to best meet the needs of the individual. Support ranges from support calls through to counselling.

The majority of the services that SWEDA offers are free, although as a charity, we are always grateful for any donations

There are two branches to the counselling service for young people. They are either referred to us through the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service's (CAMHS) Eating Disorder Service or they are self-referred (either directly or by a supporter who has their permission).

For self-referrals, SWEDA offers low cost counselling at a rate that suits our clients. We suggest £25 for the assessment and between £10-£35 per counselling session but there is no expectation for you to pay a certain amount - only what feels comfortable for you. You and your child will receive the same service, whether you make a donation of not. Read our Fees Policy here.

Our CYP support workers and therapists have been trained to work with people with eating disorders as well as having undertaken specific training to work with Children and Young People. All of our therapists are members of a professionally recognised body (such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and work to a recognised ethical framework.

Counselling is not about judging anyone. Having a safe space to talk to a trained and caring adult outside of the family can be easier because there is no need to protect anyone’s feelings. Supporting your child to express themselves honestly in sessions, whether about school, friends or family, will greatly enable them to get the most out of the counselling. Our aim is to enable your child to feel happier, safer and more able to make the most of life, now and into the future.

The therapist's role is to offer your child a safe, confidential space to talk about what is going on for them - a space where your child feels able to talk about anything at all, without feeling the need to protect other people's feelings. This means that the therapist won't tell you in detail what is spoken about in the sessions, unless your child gives them permission to do so. There are some exceptions to this, for example, if your child discloses something that would put them or other people at serious risk of harm, in which case details will need to be shared as appropriate with you or with other professional organisations.

The SWEDA CYP team are all specifically trained to work with this age group. Initially, your child will meet with an experienced clinician who will carry out an assessment to determine what your child needs from SWEDA, and how to keep them safe.

As SWEDA is not able to provide any medical facilities, we ask that all of the children and young people who come to SWEDA have a medical check-up at their GP surgery (SWEDA can approach the GP surgery on your behalf if necessary). Depending on your child's situation, we may request on-going medical monitoring by the GP surgery.

SWEDA has a shared pathway with the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Community Eating Disorders Team (CAMHS CEDS). This means that we are easily able to refer on, if necessary, and can 'step up' the level of care for those children and young people needing more intensive support.

SWEDA has designated safeguarding leads to support the whole organisation. Additionally, everyone at SWEDA undertakes a course on safeguarding.

Within a few days of you requesting help from SWEDA, you will be contacted to arrange an initial Support and Guidance session. Depending on the type of support that your child requires, they may be placed on a waiting list. We offer regular check ins to those CYP on our waiting list.   

For CYP who are in need of more immediate care, we have the option to refer them onto the shared CAMHS pathway.  

Yes - SWEDA offers support to family members as well as those who have an eating disorder. Your child does not have to be working with SWEDA in order for you to get support from us. 

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