You may be living with or in recovery from an eating disorder or maybe you just know what its like to experience body shame with the diet culture we live in. Spring and Summer can be a trigger to restrictive urges, body comparisons and self-judgement. Learn 3 tools to strengthen your body image this Summer.
West Chester, Pennsylvania is just south of The Main Line – an area rich with resources, beautiful settings, history and academic prestige. With all this knowledge about … well, everything - in our town, why is it so difficult to fully grasp what eating disorder therapy actually is? What does it do? How does it work?
And the most important question of all – WILL – IT – MAKE – ME – FAT?
You may have found counselors in West Chester that were kind enough and surely helpful. Understandably, you’ve got lots of questions.
It is so normal to be scared.
It is completely understandable if you’re wanting help – wanting support, but you can’t quite get yourself to take the plunge – and for MANY reasons (including the fear of getting fat). There are other reasons you’re probably scared:
you know there’s a bunch of things in your past, or perhaps your family, that may have contributed to your anorexia, but you don’t want to blame them.
You know you’ve got some difficult memories stored away, but that’s just the point – they’re STORED neatly away and the thought of walking into a counseling office and TALKING about them seems like the worst idea ever! Also, the commitment!
The binging and purging takes up ALL OF YOUR TIME –
every last ounce of energy you have to get to the grocery store, buy your binge foods, bring them home, make sure no one’s around and then the binge. Eating and purging and eating and counting and cleaning and being COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED! Who has time for therapy, let alone has the ability to commit to a specific time every week to show up?
But you’re so tired!
Tired of this dance you are doing with a gorilla – he won’t let go and you just keep spinning and you’re out of control and you want help, but it all just seems too overwhelming.
I hear you – it’s a dark way to live
You don’t have to feel like this anymore
Here are some debunked myths about eating disorder therapy:
1. Will my therapist try to make me fat?
No. We are not here to make you fat, contrary to popular belief. Geneen Roth says that recovery is about finding balance in food, weight and life; it's not about gaining weight. Recovery from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder is NOT about making you fat. My focus, when I work with clients struggling with ED, is to help them break free from the obsession with food and body. To help them learn to love their bodies and live inside of them. To find peace around food and this is NOT done through binging! This is done by UNdoing the diet mentality. Diets make people with eating disorders either fat or nutty or both.
The goal for someone trying to find recovery from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder is to eat when you are hungry, to eat enough food, that you enjoy, to SATISFY you and to stop eating when you are SATISFIED.
If you practice this way of normal or intuitive eating, your body will follow suit. If you are not restricting all day, every day and then binging and purging up your food, your body will do what it was born to do naturally – it will process the food and use the calories to give you energy and help your hair shine and your skin retain moisture. It will also alleviate the depression and anxiety you are experiencing from malnutrition.
2. If I go to therapy, will I spend all my time digging up the past and talking about my mother?
No. As a therapist, I believe your history is one important component of what makes you - YOU. I usually spend some time exploring things that happened in the past, but only as I find it helpful for the present – or if my client wants to explore or use EMDR to process an upsetting memory, then, of course we go there. But this is not the focus. As a therapist, my job is to help you identify YOUR GOALS and I am the guide that helps you reach them.
Another thing to consider is coaching. One of the differences between a therapy and a coaching is that coaching is usually much more directive and there’s virtually no history that comes into play. Coaching can be very useful especially for help with navigating things like grocery stores, restaurants or meal times. I incorporate coaching techniques when my clients are in need of this sort of direction. Whatever it takes to reach your goals and so you don’t need to be in therapy for the rest of your life.
3. Won’t I just be put on another diet?
No. Not when working with this type of eating disorder recovery, anyway. Some clinicians believe the way to heal an eating disorder is through rigid meal plans and restriction of certain food groups. Perhaps this works for some people, but don’t you want freedom? REAL freedom? As Jenni Schaeffer said, “How free do you want to be?” YOU CAN FULLY HEAL FROM YOUR EATING DISORDER. You CAN find freedom from all sorts of restriction. The beginning stages of recovery may involve a meal plan from a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. We usually work on the exchange system. Rather than counting calories or measuring amounts of foods, we use exchanges to help you get away from the diet mentality.
And we meet you where you are at.
If you are not ready to eat 3 meals a day, that is okay. It is our job to help you mediate your anxiety around food; not to overwhelm you. Middle and late stages of recovery often move away from meal plans and move more towards intuitive and normal eating. (whatever that is right?) But honestly, the goal is to help you find freedom to enjoy meals with friends and family – to put food in its place in your life instead of allowing it to dominate and terrorize you. Dieting is not part of eating disorder recovery.
I hope this helps debunk some of the myths about eating disorder therapy, and hopefully, it will help you in your search for the right eating disorder therapist in West Chester Pennsylvania. If you are still feeling stuck, please don’t hesitate to call me at 610.314.8402 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’m happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help with eating disorders, you can read more about how I can help here.