Oct
03

COSW Faculty Recruitment Committee Meeting
Oct
03

COSW Advanced Year Curriculum Group Meeting
Oct
03

COSW Faculty Council Meeting
Oct
03

COSW Undergarduate & PhD Meeting

Butler P storyAn Interdisciplinary Approach to Treating Adolescent Eating Disorders

Helping a teenager recover from an eating disorder requires the support of professionals, family, peers, and others in an adolescent’s rapidly expanding world. While that concept might seem simple and obvious, Dr. Patrick Butler said that creating a high functioning, collaborative treatment team requires professionals trained to think and plan from the perspective of “person in environment.”

Butler, who earned his MSW in 2000 and doctorate in social work in 2009 from USC, came to the program with experience working directly with troubled teens. Through his graduate work he gained more powerful tools to organize the best practices of a broad array of professions to serve individuals more effectively at a macro level.

Butler has been working in Oklahoma City since August 2013, when he relocated to take a faculty position in Adolescent Medicine at the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Medicine. He came to OU from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston with a physician colleague to start an eating disorders program at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. “It was an unmet need in Oklahoma, as we provide full inpatient and outpatient programming to all adolescents in the state,” Butler said.

An adolescent who develops an eating disorder may have close friends who value thinness, parents who overly focus on achievement, or a personality that cultivates perfectionism, creating the possibility for those factors and others to twist into a spiral of unhealthy behaviors. “An eating disorder is never caused by any one factor,” Butler said. “Having an interdisciplinary treatment team in place is the gold standard to address the complexity of eating disorders in adolescence.”

The medically based inpatient program serves patients ages 10 to 23, and focuses on patient-centered, family supported care that is developmentally appropriate. “Our treatment team of physicians, nursing, mental health, a dietitian, child life, physical therapy, and chaplaincy all bring unique skills and perspective to work with our patients.” The outpatient clinic has consistently grown in treating adolescents with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and a host of additional adolescent health concerns including women’s health and obesity.

Mental health services will continue to expand. “We plan to hire an additional mental health provider in 2014 and work with the Zarrow School of Social Work at OU to provide field education to MSW students in the coming academic year,” said Butler. “Meeting the need for highly trained providers is a huge part of our mission.” Adolescent Medicine’s clinical, research, training, and advocacy footprint will continue to make the safety net more robust for Oklahoma youth. “Our ability to support and increase the base of passionate, committed stakeholders in adolescent health will make all the difference in improving  outcomes.”

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