Residential Eating disorder Treatment in Beautiful Malaysia

Eating Disorders

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, seventy million people live with an eating disorder. Though a large number, it’s not surprising, especially as magazines, advertisements, TV, and social media are plastered with photos of touched-up models that are the epitome of the perfect body.

Whilst there’s no direct cause, eating disorders can easily develop from factors like poor self-esteem and body image, as well as social and peer pressure. This can lead young people to develop unhealthy eating behaviours, such as eating too little, eating too much, or worrying about their weight. We understand just how difficult it can be to break this thought process and develop a healthy relationship with food, but recovery is possible.

At The Wave, we offer a range of treatments designed to help young people overcome eating disorders. Alongside clinical treatment, we provide opportunities to learn new skills, try new hobbies, and make long-lasting friendships – giving every young person a chance to grow and realise their dreams after recovery.

We are here to help

The Wave Eating Disorder Admissions Team can be contacted on:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Wave Clinic: Specialists in Teen Eating Disorders
+60 327 271 799 (General Enquiries)
+60 125 227 734 (Admissions)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Wave International Group LLC
+971 438 354 01

What Is It and How Does It Work?

Treatment for Eating Disorders

With a supportive, caring environment and a solid treatment programme, young people can recover from an eating disorder. It’s all about breaking unhealthy eating patterns and developing a healthier relationship with food. We know that no two disorders are the same and that everybody has different triggers, so we make sure each treatment plan is personalised.

At The Wave, we strive to develop programmes that help those struggling with an eating disorder overcome their problem and help them develop and plan for a bright future. Young people have so much ahead of them, and we truly believe that an eating disorder doesn’t have to stop them from achieving their dreams. In addition to providing industry-leading treatments, we work with our young people to help them realize their future goals and ambitions.

Why Is It Important to Treat Trauma and Eating Disorders at the Same Time?

Research shows that experiences of trauma are common among adolescents with eating disorders. One study found that a majority (75%) of adolescents who entered residential treatment for eating disorders had experienced at least one type of childhood trauma, while 38% met the criteria for PTSD. Young people who live with PTSD alongside an eating disorder face additional challenges and tend to have more severe symptoms and higher rates of depression and anxiety.

For young people with co-occurring eating disorders and PTSD, it’s important to treat both disorders at the same time. That means providing trauma therapy to young people even during the early stages of eating disorder treatment, including intensive treatment settings and higher levels of care. PTSD symptoms and unprocessed trauma often play a big role in sustaining eating disorder symptoms and, if untreated, they may become barriers to a young person’s recovery. Taking a whole-person approach to recovery that appreciates the interplay of different symptoms, disorders, and life experiences helps young people achieve meaningful and lasting recovery from eating disorders, heal from trauma, and improve their quality of life.

Groundbreaking research proves the effectiveness of integrated eating disorder and PTSD treatment. A study examining the effects of providing trauma therapy (based on the principles of cognitive processing therapy) within an eating disorder residential treatment program found that people participating in the program showed both lasting improvements in eating disorder symptoms and significant, sustained relief from trauma symptoms. These results reflect a move away from the outdated family-based therapy (FBT) model, that treats concerns one at a time, towards an integrated treatment approach.

At The Wave Clinic, our programs are based upon a whole-person approach that treats a young person’s various mental health concerns at the same time. For the past six years, we’ve provided concurrent ED treatment and trauma treatment to young people living with eating disorders and experiences of trauma, helping them to heal and achieve lasting recovery.

Laying the groundwork for a bright life after recovery

The Seven Core Elements of Treatment

Our focus on creating a solid foundation for long-term recovery led us to develop the seven core elements of treatment – a programme built around seven core concepts designed to promote healing and lay the groundwork for a bright life after recovery.

Each of the seven elements focuses on enriching a specific aspect of a young person’s life, whether that’s achieving recovery, building new skills for the future, working on their mental health, or developing a strong support network.

The seven elements include:

Our clinical approach combines a range of therapies to help young people overcome pre-existing mental health conditions and identify the root cause of their eating disorder. As a mental health condition, it’s important that young people tackle the mental aspect of their disorder before medical intervention and treatments. This is because starting physical treatments and eating plans won’t be effective if they haven’t overcome this mental block. We believe that our young people need to be in the right mindset before starting treatment, and this is exactly what the clinical element of our programme is all about.

During this time, our young people will work closely with a team of psychotherapists, trauma professionals, family therapists, and recovery coaches who focus on their mental health, working with them to develop healthy coping mechanisms and associations with food and their body image.

Our clinical therapies and interventions include:

  • Family therapy
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Internal family systems (IFS)
  • Enhanced cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT-E)
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
  • Radically open dialectical behaviour therapy (RO-DBT)
  • Expressive arts therapy
  • Somatic therapy

At The Wave, our dedicated psychiatrist teams are on-site every day to help our young people on their healing journey, meaning they’ll be surrounded by twenty-four-hour medical care and support. Medical treatment for eating disorders depends on the severity of the condition, and, as touched on above, all programmes are personalised accordingly.

Depending on the severity of an eating disorder, a medical programme can include:

  • Tube feeding and total parenteral nutrition (TPN)
  • Lab and electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Medical and psychiatric management of eating disorders
  • Medication and prescriptions
  • Psychiatric intensive care
  • One-to-one nursing

At The Wave, we believe everyone is entitled to a great education. No mental health condition or eating disorder should hold young people back from growing and developing – that’s why we’ve created a programme that blends treatment with education to set a solid foundation for the future.

As well as personal learning plans (PLP), our young people are given a chance to continue their studies or embark on new ones. Whether they want to continue their GCSES or A Levels, or take up a new study – there’s something for everyone to get stuck into.

Some of our vocational options include:

  • The Royal Horticultural Society
  • The London School of Art
  • Leith’s School of Cookery
  • The British Horse Society

True recovery doesn’t happen through talking and support alone; it happens through action. At The Wave, we call this ‘living and learning recovery.’ It’s one of the reasons we’ve developed a global citizenship programme that gives our young people the chance to help out in the local community and become more aware of the world around them. We tie this in around the treatment of eating disorders, creating a volunteering programme that sees our young people work with local orphanages to plan, cook, and serve meals to children.

As well as cooking and eating with the children, our young people are gently eased into therapeutic inquiry and come to challenge negative beliefs and associations around food. It’s a fun and empowering experience to serve the community and give back, but it also gives our young people the chance to take part in living and learning recovery.

At The Wave, we believe it’s just as important to develop inner resources and tools that can be used to lay a solid foundation for lasting wellness and success. With our outside-inside approach, young people have the opportunity to grow and develop a bank of skills that can be used in their future. All these strategies can be used in times of stress, helping them develop healthy coping mechanisms instead of turning back to old habits.

We combine a range of creative and holistic treatments into each young adults programme, including:

  • Education on the food and body groups
  • Mindful movement
  • Tension, stress, and trauma release (TRE)
  • Reiki
  • Eating disorder informed yoga
  • Education on nourishment and healthy eating
  • Journalling and reflective writing
  • Team sports and group challenges

Cultivating a strong team spirit, sense of accomplishment, and fun into our treatment programmes is what sets our treatment approach apart from others. We don’t just focus on medical and clinical treatment – we’re also keen to get our young people involved in fun challenges and experiences that will empower them and help them learn new life skills.

That’s why one of our seven core elements is experiences. All young people have the chance to take part in a range of experiences and exciting adventures, including:

  • Dance and drama productions
  • Fashion design 
  • Batik painting
  • Pottery
  • Horse riding
  • Jungle adventures
  • Orienteering
  • Rock climbing

As soon as young people enter our doors, we’re already planning and prepping for their future. They’ve got so much ahead of them, and we’re keen to help them realise their dreams and ambitions, giving them the tools and resources to set the cogs into motion. 

Our dedicated care team works with each young person to develop an ongoing plan that will help ease them back into everyday life and transition healthily. We know that leaving behind the security and familiarity of treatment can be a little daunting, but we’re here to help each young person develop a set of goals and plans to work towards their future with confidence.

“I came to The Wave about 2 ½ years ago, and I can’t speak highly enough about their service, support, and love I received (and still do) from the team. They have helped me build stable foundations for a life that now feels worth living. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their amazing help, and I am lucky enough to call them my family.”

Eating disorder therapies and treatment options

Recovering from Eating Disorders

During a young person’s stay with us, they’ll experience a range of therapies and treatment options. Some of our most popular include:

One-to-One Therapy

During one-to-one therapy, each young person meets regularly with a dedicated therapist. These sessions offer a safe space for them to open up, share any worries and concerns, and get to the root of the eating disorder. Young people are also encouraged to learn how to handle their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms and associations with food.

Group Therapy

At The Wave, we place a strong emphasis on team spirit and building relationships. After all, having a strong support network helps many people when the time comes for them to transition back into normal life. That’s why so many of our activities and therapies are focused on cultivating relationships.

Although many young people find it a little daunting to open up, group therapy is a great way to learn from others on a similar journey. Our young adult’s also find that group therapy enables them to form long-lasting friendships with other people. In addition, hearing from others who’ve battled an eating disorder shows our young adult’s that they’re not alone and gives them the chance to hear how others cope with the condition. There’s also a greater sense of accountability, as everyone will have each other’s backs.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) for Eating Disorders

Interpersonal Therapy or IPT is an evidence-based treatment frequently used in the treatment of binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia nervosa, and depression. IPT is beneficial in the treatment of eating disorders in teenagers and young people.

Interpersonal Therapy for Eating Disorders requires specialist training and is limited to psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists.

One of the goals of interpersonal therapy is to look carefully at the emotions and drivers that are being experienced during binge eating episodes. Learning to distinguish the emotions that are being experienced during a binge can be very difficult at first. Group therapy is an important tool in sharing experiences and receiving feedback and support. Using group therapy to connect with others, to explore the feelings during a binge is an important step in the treatment of binge eating disorder.

IPT is most suited to young people who have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa and those who have also been diagnosed with an Affective Disorder (NICE Guidelines for the treatment of depression)

IPT is highly effective because it helps young people manage overwhelming feelings, which young people diagnosed with BED and bulimia tend to use food to manage, in particular feelings that emerge in social settings and interpersonal relationships. Trauma-focused treatment for eating disorders is essential to understand the causes and inform the treatment planning for sustained recovery.

Goals in IPT may begin with young people identifying others that they would like to have a closer relationship with and working towards building relationships and feeling the emotions rather than squashing them down. Social and Interpersonal relationships may have been difficult for many young people, possibly leading to social anxiety.

Residential treatment for Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa provides an opportunity for teenagers and young people to look at the underlying mechanisms of their eating disorder and begin to form connections in a safe space, designed to support awareness and healing. IPT is different from CBT for Eating Disorders and from FBT (Family Based Therapy or The Maudsley Method)

IPT may not be a suitable choice of therapy for young people with Cluster B personality disorders, for example Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This is because many of the difficulties seen in BPD are related to interpersonal relationships and social constructs. The Wave BPD team recommend alternative treatment methods for the treatment of young people with BPD or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and have a specialist program to meet the needs of teens diagnosed with BPD.

IPT forms part of the specialist eating disorder treatment program for teenagers and young adults at The Wave and is delivered by Therapists trained in IPT for eating disorders. The Wave Eating Disorder programs utilise a variety of evidence based treatment models, psychiatric care and exemplary medical interventions when needed to deliver Intensive Care, Primary Care and Secondary Care treatment for eating disorders for young people age 13 and over.

Alternative Therapies

From dance and art therapy to reiki and mindfulness, we offer a range of alternative therapies to enhance wellness and promote healing from the inside out. Being exposed to natural healing treatments can relieve stress, helping many people better cope with negative emotions and those moments when they feel like slipping back into old habits.

Creative therapies like art, dance, and drama offers the chance to express emotions and let go of negative associations with food. These therapies also help many develop new skills and hobbies that they can use once they’ve left our clinic – ideal for channelling their energy into something creative.

Trauma-Informed Yoga

A special category of yoga, trauma-informed yoga is gentle and non-aerobic, making it ideal for those with eating disorders. Whenever exercise is involved, there’s always the chance of pushing people into unhealthy mindsets of needing to lose weight or achieving the perfect body. This is especially true of those with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Trauma-informed yoga is the perfect solution, offering a gentle workout focused on the mental rather than the physical. During sessions, young people are guided through different movements, each designed to help them develop emotional awareness and trust in their bodies. It’s all about developing healthy habits that give young people ownership over their bodies.

Nutritional Programmes

During a young person’s stay at The Wave, they have a personalised nutritional programme tailored to their specific needs. This ensures that those in recovery from an eating disorder get all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay strong and recover. We also offer a wide range of education on nutrition, food groups, and how nutrition affects the body.

Over time, young people in our care slowly learn to develop healthy and regular eating patterns and meal planning. We take everything at our young adult’s pace, helping them adjust to the changes smoothly.

Gardening Groups

Known as horticultural therapy, our gardening group programmes offer our young people the chance to garden and look after their own bed of flowers and plants. This ownership gives them responsibility for something, empowering them to look after the seeds they’ve sown. Not only does this show them the power of care and compassion, but these skills can also be directly translated into how they look after themselves.

Flowers take time to grow, but they flourish with the right care and support, just like young people in recovery will. We also offer young people the opportunity to plant fruits and vegetables, enabling them to be involved with food from the moment it’s planted.

Family Therapy​

Eating disorders can take a toll on the whole family, and it can sometimes be difficult for loved ones to truly understand what a young person is going through and why. Our family therapy sessions are a safe space for everyone to open up, voice their feelings and concerns, and better understand one another.

Radically Open Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Many young people with eating disorders also struggle with perfectionist thinking and overcontrol. Young people with perfectionist traits tend to aim for specific, often unattainable standards, and place their self-worth in whether or not they meet them. This may involve wanting to have a certain body shape or be at a certain weight, and feeling like a failure if their perceived body shape is different. Perfectionist thinking is often accompanied by overcontrol, where young people inhibit urges, desires, impulses, and behaviours in order to reach certain goals.

Radically open dialectical behavioural therapy (RO-DBT) is an innovative, evidence-based treatment based on openness, flexibility, and open connectedness. RO-DBT supports young people to challenge even their most strongly held beliefs, be open to the possibility of radical change, and be ready to learn from others. It helps young people express their thoughts and emotions more freely to encourage meaningful connection with others and develop a sense of belonging. 

At The Wave, we offer DBT in weekly specialist skills groups for young people who may benefit from targeted interventions. Through our RO-DBT sessions, young people learn to overcome issues of overcontrol and perfectionism that may underlie disordered eating behaviours while improving their social connectedness, relationships, and emotional expression. All our sessions are led by highly skilled, specialist therapists sensitive to the unique needs of every young person.

Cookery School

At The Wave, we believe in recovery through action. That’s why we get all our young people involved in activities and programmes that promote healthy eating, helping them develop a better relationship with food. One of these ‘living’ recovery activities is our cooking school. Here, we encourage young people to prep, cook, and learn new recipes that they can take with them into their future.

Being around food and learning how to nourish the body through cooking gently helps young people form healthy associations with eating, making it a fun experience rather than a scary one. It also equips them with the basic culinary skills they need in the future if they decide to move away from home or travel abroad.

Frequently asked questions

Eating Disorders FAQ's

An eating disorder is a mental health condition characterised by a need to control the amount of food a person eats. This can include not eating enough, eating too much, and having overall unhealthy behaviours towards food. Whilst we all have our off-days, persistent negative thoughts about food and eating should be addressed as soon as possible.

The three most common types of eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa – Limiting the amount of food eaten to control weight, anorexia nervosa can include excessive exercise habits and fasting.
  • Bulimia – Losing control over the amount of food eaten and then resorting to unhealthy behaviours to avoid picking up weight, such as vomiting, fasting, and excessive exercise.
  • Binge eating disorder (BED) – Eating large amounts of food until a person feels full.
  • Purging disorder – an eating disorder characterized by the compulsion to purge after consuming food.

Although all three differ slightly, eating disorders present similar symptoms, including:

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about weight
  • Avoiding social situations where food is involved 
  • Exercising excessively
  • Having strict habits and routines around food and meal plans
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Feeling depressed, worried, or anxious around food
  • Having a very low body mass index (BMI) or being underweight
  • Having irregular or missed periods 
  • Digestion problems
  • Feeling cold, tired, and nauseous 

Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions, and there’s no set reason why they occur. It all depends on an individual’s experience and the things they’ve gone through. Overall mental health, genetics, and environment can all play a part in the development of an eating disorder.

Some of the most common risk factors for an eating disorder include:

  • Being bullied 
  • Having few or no friends
  • Poor self-esteem and body image
  • Pressure from the media to be ‘skinny.’
  • Abuse, trauma, or neglect
  • Taking part in sports or activities that are body-focused, such as ballet, gymnastics, and modelling

Surrounded by medical and professional support, anyone can recover from an eating disorder. It doesn’t happen overnight, but young people can develop healthy coping mechanisms and associations to food with time. That’s what The Wave is all about; equipping those young people with the support and care to recover in an environment that truly cares about them, giving them a chance to build friendships, develop new skills, and plan for their bright future.

Young people who have had or who currently have an Eating Disorder, may be at increased risk of Osteoporosis. 

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes a weakening of the bones. Osteoporosis can cause bones to thin and become more prone to breaks. 

Breaks in the spine, wrist and hips are the most common breaks for young people with a history of Anorexia Nervosa. 

Eating Disorders typically begin around the teen years. This is a time when the body is changing and growing rapidly. Eating disorders that have an onset around this time can affect the way that the bones (and other body functions)develop. Eating disorders affect hormone levels and in turn this can affect the development of healthy bones. Good nutrition is essential to the development and maintenance of strong bones and healthy muscles that support the bone structure. 

The earlier that an eating disorder starts and the longer it continues directly affects the risk of developing bone loss and osteoporosis. Girls who have stopped having periods due to an eating disorder and low body weight are at an additional risk of developing poor bone health.

Teens and young adults who are in recovery from anorexia Nervosa should maintain a stable weight as prescribed by their treatment team. Periods in girls  will return when the correct amount of body fat is present and hormones begin to normalise.  Ask your dietician about calcium, protein and other nutrients that support great bone health. Exercise in moderation can help to support bone health. Speak with your treatment team to ensure that exercise is appropriate.

Eating Disorders most often begin at around the same time as the body begins to change at Puberty. Not all eating disorders begin at this time, however, many young people describe that their eating disorder started during the teenage and young adult years. This is a crucial time for gynaecological health. 
Eating Disorders can stop monthly periods in young people who have started to menstruate. Eating disorders that begin early, can also delay puberty. Over 80% of young people with anorexia nervosa and 40% of young people with Bulimia Nervosa will have disrupted periods, also called Amenorrhea

Anorexia Nervosa is usually accompanied by a low body weight. The body also has depleted fat stores. It is these fat stores that play a role in our reproductive health and cause an effect on the menstrual cycle. 

Anorexia may have an effect on later fertility, miscarriage and increase the risk of postnatal depression.


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