What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are very complicated conditions. Unlike other mental health issues, ED involves not only the mind but also the body. It disrupts a person’s sense of control, self, body image, and the ways in which they relate to others. EDs are widely varied, but at the heart of them all is emotional regulation, and that usually coincides with a sense of control.
How Do You Treat Them?
There are a lot of evidence-based practices that have been shown to be effective, including CBT, DBT, exposure response prevention (ERP), and EMDR. I use EDMR and DBT, as well as mindfulness practices. I help my clients to become more comfortable sitting with distress and strong emotions to give them back a sense of control and safety, so that the default doesn’t have to center around food, but around themselves as a whole, well-regulated person.
Why Can’t I/They “Just Eat”?
If only it were that simple! Here’s a secret: It’s not about the food. It never was. It’s about feeling safe and stable, physically and emotionally. A sense of stability and safety needs to be re-established, and eating patterns can slowly be restored as that happens. It’s a slow process, but “slow and steady wins the race”.
And, pro tip: You can’t tell by the way someone’s body looks whether or not they have an ED, so it’s best to not make comments about bodies, but to ask about emotional experiences.
Is There Hope?
Definitely. I won’t lie to you - recovery from ED is hard. There’s a reason EDs develop in the first place. But it’s not impossible, and I believe there’s hope, even for the most extreme cases. It’s never too late to dig in and do the hard work of recovery in both mind and body.
While I work with clients at the outpatient level of care, there are a lot of options for people needing more intensive treatment. Please contact me for options - they’re not as scary as you think, and I’m happy to walk you through what to expect. I have experience working in residential treatment, and currently work full-time in a PHP/IOP setting for ED. Ask your questions, gather information, and don’t be afraid to take the next step. You are worth it.