Closer to Home 

West Tennessee gets its first residential treatment center for eating disorders.

Dr. Teri McCann has been treating area patients with eating disorders for about eight years, but when those patients needed more intensive treatment, her only choice was to send them to residential eating disorder treatment centers in Birmingham, St. Louis, or Chattanooga.

That is, until about two weeks ago. McCann and her staff opened Fairhaven Treatment Center, the only residential eating disorder center in West Tennessee, in Cordova late last month, and they've already got one client living on-site.

click to enlarge Fairhaven Treatment Center
  • Fairhaven Treatment Center

"I got tired of sending my clients off. I wanted to be able to work with their families and be involved in their care," said McCann, the founder and director of Fairhaven. "And I was seeing some patients not get treatment because they were fearful of moving away."

Fairhaven is located in a sprawling home situated on nine acres of wooded land off Houston Levee Road. It was built as a private residence, but McCann was able to get a special use permit to operate her center there. The center only treats women, and up to 10 residents at a time can live at the center.

There are several local centers that treat eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, but there previously has been no center devoted to residential treatment. McCann said most clients will need to stay for at least 30 days with options to stay longer if needed.

"People who need residential placement usually need a tremendous amount of structure," McCann said. "We provide three nutritious meals a day based on an individual meal plan. You can't really do that in outpatient therapy."

The center's chef puts together a meal plan for each client, and after meals, clients will have post-meal processing sessions to talk about how eating made them feel.

"When people are first coming in, if they're not used to eating, you'll see smaller portions. And some diets will have more added fiber," McCann said. "People get to pick three foods they hate when they first come in, and they'll never be served those."

Clients will also get art therapy, breath therapy, and yoga sessions, as well as group sessions on everything from nutrition to dealing with social anxiety. Weekends will bring family visitation time, movie nights, and therapeutic social outings.

"This past weekend, we went out and had our nails done. Self-nurturing is a huge part of it," McCann said.

Since the home is located on nine acres, there are plans to include outdoor activities, such as nature walks, into the therapy sessions as well.

Beginning May 20th, Fairhaven will also add "Insights," a summer outpatient program for teen girls and young women. Therapist Rebecca Taylor will head up that program, which is designed to prevent young women from developing full-blown eating disorders.

"If mom has noticed her daughter is starting to struggle with body image issues, the client can get preventative care here," Taylor said. "But each client will receive individualized counseling to determine what they need."

"Insights" will include structured meals, individual and family therapy sessions, and yoga. Additionally, clients will be taken on meal outings to increase their comfort with dining in a real-world setting.

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