Despite the fact that eating disorders constitute such a prevalent and serious problem for many athletes, there are no specialized treatment programs for such athletes. Most eating disorder treatment facilities in the U.S. treat athletes on occasion but do so through their usual treatment programs, in part because a treatment program cannot be changed to meet the special needs of an athlete when it treats only a few eating disorders in athletes each year. The Victory Program is specifically designed to treat eating disorders in athletes with other athletes who are overcoming their eating disorders. One of the major advantages of treating athletes with eating disorders together is that they can be provided with strategies for dealing with the special risks that have contributed to their disorders—risks that they will likely have to deal with on their return to training and competition.
What Makes The Victory Program Unique for Treating Eating Disorders in Athletes
Several components of The Victory Program make it different from all others—the most important of which involves professional staff. The Program will incorporate the very successful state of the art treatment components typically employed at McCallum Place. In addition to McCallum staff members with experience and expertise in working with eating disorders in athletes, The Victory Program staff will include a sport psychologist, sport dietitians, and an athletic trainer, who will provide services specifically designed for serious, competitive male and female athletes. The addition of these professionals adds to the singularity and specialness of The Victory Program.
When appropriate, based on the athlete’s medical condition and progress in treatment, the athlete will be allowed to begin training in preparation for his/her eventual return to competition. Decisions regarding such training will be made by the treatment staff, but the addition of the expertise of the sport psychologist, sport dietitian, and athletic trainer in making such decisions, again adds to the uniqueness of The Victory Program. Additionally, the sport psychologist will provide the mental training, on which so many serious athletes currently rely to augment their physical training. Such training will include the traditional psychological skills training that has characterized sport psychology, such as goal setting, self talk, imagery, arousal regulation, and finding the flow or mindfulness.
At no time has sports nutrition been more important to the serious athlete regarding sport performance than today. Program sport dietitians not only understand the importance of good nutrition for recovery from an eating disorder and improvement of overall health, they also understand that athletes have nutritional needs that are different from non-athletes. They will also work with the athlete regarding his/her specific or unique nutritional needs for a particular sport.
The athletic trainer plays a very special role in The Victory Program. Many athletes with eating disorders may be injured. The injury may or may not be directly related to the eating disorder but will require rehabilitation; rehabilitation that will be managed by the athletic trainer. The athletic trainer will also arrange, manage, and monitor the athlete’s training throughout treatment at The Victory Program in preparation for a return to competition.
The combination of McCallum Place’s successful treatment philosophy and staff regarding eating disorders in athletes with the special Victory Program staff and its belief that athletes constitute a special subpopulation of eating disorder patients, truly make it a program that is “one of a kind.” In The Victory Program, these very special individuals that we call “athletes,” will receive the eating disorder treatment and any other related treatment they may need. In addition to treatment for eating disorder focusing on the sport environment, sport nutrition, sports related body image and return to sport. Victory encourages athletes to build a mental toughness and positive body images as a resource for recovery.