Many people with eating disorders are deeply ashamed of their problem. Society stigmatizes mental illness and in the case eating disorders, many believe that the condition is self-inflicted.
When you become obsessed with your diet and eating habits, your emotions begin to hinge on that obsession. — Dawn Delgado LMFT, CEDS-S
Due to the shame and stigma from this disorder, many young people will not seek the help that they require, and it is often family and friends who notice the signs and symptoms and seek assistance on behalf of the sufferer.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
Although co-existing conditions and underlying health problems may be medicated, there is no appropriate medication for eating disorders. Instead, talk therapy has proven to be the most suitable approach to overcoming the condition, which you can read more about elsewhere online.
Before the patient can even begin on the road to recovery, they must start on a nutritional plan, which will help them to recover physically. Gaining weight and retaining it may be very upsetting for someone with an eating disorder so talk therapy will have to deal with the resultant anxiety and focus on coping skills.
Talk therapy involves talking through emotions and experiences with counselors trained to listen without passing judgment. The patient must make connections between past experiences and current lifestyle circumstances. She must understand what triggers eating problems, learning to avoid the triggers and learning to cope with everyday stresses.
When a loved one or dear friend is hiding or lying about self-destructive behavior, it often feels like we need to take action immediately. Even if it means destroying or disrupting a relationship. — F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W.
Talk therapy for eating disorders is a little different from the traditional talk therapy in that the patient will be expected to maintain a journal and will be given homework, challenging obsessions and anxieties. At the heart of talk therapy is education on how past actions and life experience affect current beliefs and actions. The ultimate objective is a well-rounded and happy life.
Most people suffering from eating disorders require long-term therapy to overcome the symptoms of the disorder and to ensure that they don’t suffer a relapse later in life. The basis of the disorder must be interrogated and co-existing psychological conditions must be identified so that they can be treated concurrently.
There are a number of talk therapies available. They include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Generic Therapy
Many of these therapies are very helpful in overcoming eating disorders, and most are used in combination. Because eating disorders are complex, differing from person to person, the choice of therapy will be very personalized, and therefore the treatment regime must start with the selection of a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, and with whom the patient feels comfortable. Building a relationship of trust with the therapist is an important start on the road to full recovery.
Remember that eating disorders aren’t really about weight and food. They are expressing something else troubling happening in their life. — Susan Albers Psy.D.
Benefits Of Psychotherapy
An eating disorder has as its basis, deeply felt and often irrational thoughts and beliefs. Talk therapy is used to help the patient to identify these thoughts and beliefs, to understand that the beliefs are illogical, and to start to challenge them.
Talk Therapy works because it does not focus on weight, but helps people to talk about their emotions and their self-esteem and body image issues. Relationship issues will also be dealt with during talk therapy, as these issues are often triggers to irregular eating behavior. Talk therapy is a gradual process and it will take several months to accomplish the goals.
The family form a very important part of the recovery process and are crucial in the support of the younger sufferer. Parents should be deeply involved in the recovery process where the sufferer is a teenager or young adult and should be empowered to help their child to a full recovery.
Parents and sometimes siblings and partners are included in the family therapy. Sometimes the therapy sessions are of great assistance and in others family fractures become apparent. Some sufferers feel that the inclusion of the family has helped them to understand the disorder whereas others are embarrassed by the involvement of the family.
Group Therapy and Support Groups
Support groups are self-help organizations where people who have had or have eating disorders meet to discuss problems and solutions relating to their shared problem. Group therapy is generally less expensive than individual therapy and can help sufferers to feel less alone. Group therapy is lead by a professional and generally forms part of the recovery plan for eating disorders.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM TALK THERAPY?
The underlying problems, which may include depression and anxiety, should be treated first, as this may be driving the irregular eating patterns. During therapy, efforts will be made to improve self-esteem and to teach the patient stress management tools. Negative feelings will be challenged, and the patient will be taught to identify the triggers to self-harm and how to avoid them.