Parallel Session 17

Nourishing Connections: Using an Interdisciplinary Approach to Providing Care to Youth



.Early intensive, interdisciplinary treatment and a rapid return to healthy weight are associated with improved outcomes in patients with eating disorders.  Without dedicated day treatment programs, intense outpatient therapy becomes vital.  Our program, ‘Nourishing Connections’, allows for clients to meet consistently with a pediatrician, clinical social worker, dietician, and psychiatrist in the same appointment. It decreases time away from school and work for families, while increasing engagement with all members of the team. It improves communication, and creates a collaborative experience for the client, family, and team.

Our goal is to prevent hospitalization and provide a solid transition for clients returning to the community following discharge from hospital. It is a client-centered approach which supports the client, family, and team, thorough culture of wellness for everyone.

Within our program, clients and families move through different intensity levels and varied modalities of services. When appropriate, many clients are referred to our ‘Becoming Body Positive’ group which promotes body acceptance, improved self-esteem and health at every size.

We will share our practice framework, our re-organization of service delivery to prioritize the client, and present our experience of integrating clinical research into practice and professional growth in functioning more collaboratively.



Early diagnosis, intensive interdisciplinary treatment, and rapid return to healthy weight are all factors associated with improved outcomes in patients with eating disorders.  In communities where intense outpatient day treatment programs do not exist, the role of concentrated outpatient treatment becomes vital.  ‘Nourishing Connections’ offers a distinct approach in community interventions to youth ages 12-18, living in or near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Our interdisciplinary clinic model allows for clients to meet consistently with a pediatrician, clinical social worker, dietician and psychiatrist in one location within the same appointment. By working together, the program improves access by decreasing time away from school and work, and increasing the likelihood of engaging all members of the health care team. It improves communication, minimizes conflicting information given to the client and family, and creates a collaborative and holistic experience for the client, their family, and the health care team.

‘Nourishing Connections’ prevents hospitalization and acts as transition for those clients returning to the community upon exiting hospital. It supports client/family determination, engagement, and empowerment across intersections. The program supports youth to explore and externalize the pressures connected to food, body, and image while supporting a multifaceted knowledge of the self. Service and care are client-centered, which translates to the development of personal empowerment and self-care practices.  The group encourages the client to reference themselves and their experience, while inviting them to be direct in their communications and behaviors.  The principle of collaboration and humanity is emphasized in all of the interactions of the team. 

The clients and their families move through different intensity levels and varied modalities of services including: pediatric medical care, psychiatric services, family therapy, individual therapy, dietician services, and group services.  In phase two/three of treatment many of the youth are referred to our ‘Becoming Body Positive’ group which promotes body acceptance, improved self-esteem and health at every size. Our goal is that by bridging this service; youth will express increased levels of body acceptance and improve their recovery process. We are interested in empowering young people to live a life outside of the shackles of food and body issues.  We aim to provide care without adding to or reinforcing an illness role for the client within the family and/or community.  By using a stepped care framework and increasing interdisciplinary services, we aim to avoid hospitalization, which can fortify a mental illness identity and strengthen a pattern of lifelong struggles with food and body.

Our presentation will focus on articulating the use of a whole person model as our practice framework. We will explain our unique re-organization of service delivery, to prioritize the client, without additional funding. We will present our experience of professional growth in working interdisciplinary.  We will share preliminary findings with an emphasis on client narratives.  Finally, the experience of incorporating clinical research into practice, and spearheading clinician driven research will be discussed.


Knowledge Level: All


Presenter Biographies

Kayly Yablonski, BSW, MSW (Candidate), RSW (SK) has lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan her entire life. She has been a social worker for seven years and has worked in various areas of mental health and addiction services throughout her career. For the past three years Kayly has been working as a clinical social worker within Youth Community Counselling. In this her current role Kayly often works with youth to improve their relationship with food and body image. Kayly co-created and facilitates Becoming Body Positive a group for youth with a focus on improving body image. She is passionate about working with young people from an anti-oppressive, feminist approach which encourages youth to feel empowered. In addition to her role with Youth Community Counselling, Kayly is an active member of Saskatoon Weight Attitudes and Disordered Eating (SWADE) and Nourish YXE. Kayly is currently in the process of completing a Master’s degree in social work, with particular focus on family therapy and eating disorder treatment.

Terri Peterson, BSW, MSW, RSW (SK) grew up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and continues to love the forests and lakeland to the North. Terri is a mother to two active boys and one soft coated Wheaton terrier named Fozzie Bear. She is dedicated to social justice and has been working in the field of mental health & wellness for the last twelve years. Terri has been working with people struggling with food and body issues throughout her career and is currently supporting young people and their families within her role as therapist & clinical coordinator within Youth Community Counselling, Saskatoon Health Region. She has facilitated several narrative research projects within her career which have all focused on honouring the knowledge and skills of the participants. Terri has worked with families in many different capacities throughout her career and believes in the power of connection. Terri is also a sessional lecturer with the University of Regina, Faculty of Social Work and teaches within the areas of human development, anti-oppressive social work, feminist social work practice, and critical thinking. She is committed to empowerment based practices with youth, adults, and families.

Dr. Ayisha Kurji completed medical school at the University of Calgary in 2004, and her pediatric residency program at the University of Saskatchewan in 2008. She is a general pediatrician working in both inpatient and outpatient care. She has a special interest in Eating Disorders, and has been providing the medical care to pediatric patients in both inpatient and outpatient capacities since 2008. She is excited to see how this care has evolved to be provided by an inter-disciplinary team, and eager to continue to find ways to provide patient/family centered care within the team.