From the persepctive of someone who suffers.
Recovering from an eating disorder isn’t just about the skills of the therapist. There is so much research out there about treatment, causes, associations and outcome studies. But we need to hear it from the horse’s mouth to be really present and available for the people we want to help.
Maybe our job is to help people to want to get better; to make recovery seem more attractive than staying ill. We must beware about being too enthusiastic about this. It would be like trying to convince someone gay that they would find life better if they were straight. We must realise how scary change can be.
Then our job is to guide them along more helpful pathways, not look back and find something or someone to blame. The client is the expert, not us, as Emma Woolf showed us in her memoire of recovery, “An Apple A Day”. But, the client still needs us by their side as what… A therapist? A mentor? A guru? They need our wisdom alongside their own.
This is what they tell us aids their recovery; in no order of importance
Reconnection: – but not, I think the pro anorexia, community. People with eating problems often fear being ordinary and unimportant but this isn’t the most helpful way to show how unique you really are. They say that things like YOGA, JOURNALING and SPIRITUALITY helps them to reconnect to themselves. Therapists please take note!
Close relationships: Relationships aren’t always helpful so we need to learn more about this.
Statements of support: Parents and carers need to say “I’m there for you” – what other statements are useful and what are not. If someone says “You are looking better these days” it can send your client into a spiral of worry.
Empathetic Friends: Friends keep away from someone with an eating disorder because they feel they have to tread on glass. Or they just avoid the subject altogether. I need to know, what exactly is an “empathetic friend?”
Compassion: we have to feel sorry for someone, not just be angry with them. They also need to learn to feel some compassion for themselves. Eating disorders are such hard work.
Therapy: it’s good to know that therapy helps as well, but looking forward is more important than looking back.
Learning HOW to eat healthfully: There are too many bad rules out there about food so people are scared of useful foods like carbs. I would add that learning the real facts about food as well as practicing mindful eating skills is great. Use eating experiences as experiments to banish fear about weight gain. Getting back in touch with appetite with proper training is much more helpful than simply persuading people to “eat properly.”
Education about the effects of the disorder: This has to be done with compassion not as a threat.
Acknowledgement The Journal of Treatment And Prevention Bruner Mazel May-June 2012
We try to provide this help to people with eating problems. If there is anything that we can do or write to help people on their recovery journey, let us know. A quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org will always guarantee a personal reply from the Founder, Deanne