Structure House Weight Management Program for Adults Introduces Virtual Family Support Program

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Structure House teaches friends and family members how to help former weight loss program participants adapt their newly developed skills into their daily lives.

The first half of the session, I'll work with the client here at Structure House, and the second half will include both the client and his or her family support partner.

As anyone who has struggled with excess weight can attest, maintaining lasting success can be even more challenging than losing the unwanted pounds in the first place.

At Structure House, the nation's leading residential weight loss program for adults, a new program component has been designed to help make long-term maintenance a little easier - and a lot more effective. The Virtual Family Support Program will help clients continue along the path toward a healthier future long after they have completed their stay at Structure House's Durham, NC, facility and returned home.

As program founder Dr. Gerard J. Musante wrote in the introduction to his bestselling book, The Structure House Weight Loss Plan, "Structure House is a residential program, but the concepts we teach there are flexible, adaptable, and portable." The Virtual Family Support Program builds on this philosophy by teaching family members how to help former participants adapt their newly developed skills into their daily lives.    


"One of the most common questions our clients ask us is, 'How am I going to explain everything that I've learned here to my family when I get home?'" said Dr. Katie Rickel, Ph.D., the Structure House staff clinical psychologist who developed the family support effort. "The Virtual Family Support Program addresses that specific need, and also helps to increase the likelihood that our clients will have a smoother and more successful transition back home."

Participants in the Virtual Family Support Program - usually spouses, other family members, or close friends - receive a series of information packets from Structure House, and participate in both individual and joint teleconferences (via phone or webcam) to discuss how to apply the concepts they have read about.

"We have a series of sessions, each of which is focused on a specific theme that was presented in the manuals," Rickel said. "The first half of the session, I'll work with the client here at Structure House, and the second half will include both the client and his or her family support partner."

The partners also have the opportunity to participate in individual sessions with Rickel to discuss questions and concerns they have as they prepare for their loved one's return home.


The Virtual Family Support Program is based upon the "TEAM" approach, a concept that Rickel developed. The acronym addresses the four core concepts that are taught to all participants:

  • Togetherness - Emphasizing the importance of establishing a supportive environment and a team philosophy.
  • Exclusion - Understanding when it's best to step back and let the Structure House client work on his/her own.
  • Assistance - Knowing what tangible support the partner can provide (and when that assistance should be offered).
  • Modification - Learning how to change one's home and habits in the manner that will provide maximum benefits not only to the Structure House client, but to all other household members.


In addition to creating an atmosphere of respect and encouragement, the Virtual Family Support Program also addresses specific attitudes and behaviors that can enhance (or detract from) the likelihood that a client will experience long-term success. For example, family members learn how to modify their shopping patterns, change habits that may trigger overeating, and create a "structured kitchen" that will help their loved one continue the progress that began at Structure House.

"An effective support network can make the difference between success and failure," Rickel said. "We're confident that the Virtual Family Support Network will optimize the likelihood that Structure House clients will achieve the long-term weight loss success that they are seeking."

About Structure House

Founded by Dr. Gerard J. Musante, Structure House integrates the principles of nutrition, exercise, and psychology into a time-tested treatment approach that is designed to transform the eating habits and lifestyles of overweight individuals. As they learn to incorporate structure into their daily lives and apply newfound strategies to their interactions with the world around them, Structure House clients begin to realize their potential as students of positive, lasting change.

Since 1977, Structure House has helped more than 30,000 people from all 50 states and 35 nations battling obesity. The program has been featured in a wide range of media outlets, including The Today Show, The New York Times, 60 Minutes, Glamour magazine, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, FOX & Friends, and USA TODAY.

Structure House is a proud member of CRC Health Group, which offers the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral healthcare services in the nation. With the largest array of personalized treatment options, individuals, families, and professionals can choose the most appropriate setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management, and therapeutic education needs. CRC Health Group is deeply committed to making its services widely and easily available to those in need, while maintaining a passion for delivering the most advanced treatment available.

For more information about Structure House, call (800) 553-0052 or visit For more information about CRC Health Group, call (877) 637-6237 or visit


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Anna Stout

CRC Health Group
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