Partnering with the Courts: An Exploration in Utilizing Civil Commitment and/or Guardianship to Increase Access to Treatment and Accountability for Recovery

While civil commitment and guardianship are commonly utilized in many other areas of mental health treatment, their use in the field of eating disorders is not as commonly employed, as many of the statutes have been written with other mental health issues as a frame of reference. Court officials and treating professionals are often not familiar with how these legal measures can be pursued to help individuals with eating disorders. Families are also often unfamiliar with these legal options. The collective lack of familiarity and fears often result in avoidance of these legal avenues. The audience will hear an overview of civil commitment and guardianship for individuals with eating disorders. Review of the definitions of civil commitment and guardianship, along with sample legal statutes will be presented. While the potential negative impacts of legal involvement will be reviewed, the potential positive impacts will emphasize the surprisingly collaborative nature that these legal strategies can employ. The possible benefits of increased access to treatment, improved assistance with transitions home, and increased accountability will be discussed.