Adolescent therapy in a homey setting
Psychologist Susan McClanahan, Ph.D. has worked in the field for 20 years. | Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
Insight Behavioral Health Centers
1535 Lake Cook Road #303
Updated: October 30, 2012 10:16AM
NORTHBROOK — Take a look at a magazine and almost always, the model or starlet gracing the cover appears to have the body a typical adolescent wishes she had.
The pressure to be skinny is more present than ever, and according to Susan McClanahan, co-founder and co-director of Insight Behavioral Health Centers, it’s one of the main reasons eating disorders are on the rise.
“The standard of beauty has gotten so much thinner, and kids want to aspire to a standard that isn’t natural to them,” said McClanahan, who has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern Medical School, and who has worked in the field for 20 years, “There’s a perception that you can control your weight more than you actually can.”
Insight Behavioral Health Centers is an intensive outpatient treatment facility for anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, stress, phobias and other mood and anxiety disorders that offers individual and group therapy for adolescents and adults. The practice has four offices – their main facility which is downtown, as well as offices in Evanston, Willowbrook and Northbrook, which specializes in adolescent care.
T.R. is an 18 year-old who voluntarily went into a program last spring at Insight.
“My eating disorder, bulimia started around eighth grade and was on and off throughout high school,” she said, “Finally, around senior year, I wanted to get my life together before college, so I decided to go to treatment.”
T.R. said it was her decision to enter a program, and that most parents have to drag their child there.
Insight’s programming involves 12 hours per week of group therapy along with individual counseling as needed, in what McClanahan calls a “homey environment.”
“We cook meals here, which is very important because some patients have become fearful of eating or are afraid to eat in front of people, so we have them eating together” she said, “We also do art therapy, family therapy and yoga and mindfulness.”
“I got a meal plan and we would eat together three times a week” T.R. said. “I learned coping skills and did a lot of journaling and art therapy.”
Insight has approximately 100 employees. The Northbrook facility employs a family therapist, psychologists, a social worker, individual therapists and a dietician. Patients come in for an initial evaluation and then the group of professionals discusses the case and determines the level of care needed. McClanahan said sometimes the patient’s condition is such that he or she needs to go to a residential facility, but if they are a good fit for Insight, they can stay in school, or at their job while being treated, which is a huge benefit.
“We can actually do the work at home in the community and they can do the recovery,” said McClanahan, “The earlier you catch this, if you can get help within the first two years, then you’re 50% more likely to recover.”
According to McClanahan, the average course of therapy is two years. Insight is in network for most major insurance companies.
“There is so much pressure on teenagers today and I think they feel so out of control, and they feel like they can act out their perfectionism on their body,” said McClanahan, “This is a place where people can get help and recover without having to go to a residential facility.”
“I could not be happier than I am now,” said T.R., who is now a college freshman, “But it was a difficult process. You can never fully get rid of it, but dealing with it and putting the fears aside, I’ve found my voice and developed great coping skills.”