In a media and popular culture so often focused on the superficialities of appearance, it is unsurprising that the prevalence of eating disorders continues to be an issue.
I know that a person with an eating disorder can fully recover. In my 17 years of ED practice I have found that a multidimensional approach works best to address all areas of this complex problem. Research has confirmed my experience, which is not surprising as these biopsychosocial disorders uniquely involve all aspects of a person.
Multifaceted approach to treating eating disorders
I provide psychotherapy to address the psychological issues. Clients also are usually required to see a physician for medical monitoring, and a dietitian for food planning. These professionals also provide another objective source of education about the health implications and consequences of eating behaviors. Dentistry and/or other health providers may, when indicated, also be utilized to provide optimal care. The treatment team may also include a psychiatrist when medication is necessary to support the change process. Clients are encouraged to attend a support or therapy group and referrals are made to experienced treatment providers.
My approach integrates theory and intervention strategies from psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and family systems orientations. Relaxation, guided imagery, and dream work are sometimes utilized. Because eating disorders are often extremely serious challenges, my style includes eliciting creativity and humor, significant resiliencies often lost in the midst of the current problem. I consistently tailor the therapy to meet the needs of the individual client, with an emphasis on establishing and maintaining a strong working relationship, the basis of good treatment.
Treatment for eating disorders in adults and teens
When working with teens, I build rapport to encourage trust and safety for open discussion. Themes include life skills, responsibility, appropriate self-expression, safe boundaries, and developmental issues which may have been frozen by the energies absorbed the eating disorder.
I also encourage periodic family sessions to address whatever piece of the problem “belongs” to the family, additionally allowing parents to have greater awareness of and involvement in the work.
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