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Treatment for eating disorders

By Heather Braddock MA, LPC-MHSP

As a professional counselor, I see many clients who compare having an eating disorder to having constant noise inside your head all day, every day.  It is as if someone else is talking to you constantly and controlling your every move, only it’s not a hallucination, it’s your own conscious thoughts turning against you.  The noise lies to you and leads you to see a distorted view of yourself. The noise of an eating disorder sounds like the noise of walking through an airport or crowded restaurant all day long, every day.  You wake up in the morning and the noise starts by telling you what you can and cannot wear, telling you what you can or cannot eat, and criticizing your every move.  “You’re fat.  She’s skinnier than you! You need to work out an extra 30 minutes today because you ate that extra piece of toast!  The scale wasn’t accurate, weigh again, and again.  You binged yesterday, now you better make up for it.”  You are unable to fully hear what others are saying because your eating disorder is speaking the loudest.  In fact, it is so loud, the only way to get it to stop is to do what it says.  And by obeying, the cycle continues and you’re trapped.

Treating eating disorders can be difficult, long term, and requires a team of professionals which includes a therapist, medical doctor, and a nutritionist.  Eating disorders are a life-threatening illness and require immediate mental health care and medical attention.

One of the first goals of therapy when treating eating disorders is to help reduce the “noise” inside the client’s head by using cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral approaches to therapy.
• Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps a client identify and change unhelpful thinking patterns and thus lead to improvement in overall functioning, mood, and behavior.
• Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps clients learn new skills to manage painful emotions by utilizing mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation.
• Family therapy is also utilized for treating children and adolescents.
• Group therapy is often used in the treatment of eating disorders and is highly effective in helping build a support system for the individual.
• Holistic approaches to treatment can also include art therapy, yoga, acceptance and commitment therapy.

Treatment for eating disorders can take place in a variety of settings depending on the severity of the disorder.  Treatment may take place in an outpatient counseling setting, intensive outpatient facility, or inpatient/residential hospital.

Covenant Counseling Center
423-247-4536 | covenantkpt.com

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