Counselling for Eating Disorders
Counselling for Eating Disorders
An Eating Disorder is a way of coping with uncomfortable emotions triggered by, amongst other things, difficult or distressing experiences, overwhelming pressure/expectations and low self-esteem. A focus on controlling eating and weight gives the sufferer a goal that takes them away from problems in life, or within themselves that feel unmanageable and inescapable, and provides them with a sense of control and potential achievement in the face of fear or failure and negative evaluation by others (and themselves). An Eating Disorder is not a diet that has gotten out of control or of fussy eating (in the case of someone who is restricting what they eat) or a result of greediness or lack of control (in the case of someone who is bingeing).
Who Can Counselling Help?
Do you deliberately try to limit your food to influence your shape and weight? Does thinking about food, eating and weight make it hard for you to concentrate? Are you afraid of losing control of your eating? Are you afraid of gaining weight? Do you often have episodes of feeling out of control when you eat? Have you ever made yourself sick or taken laxatives to try and lose weight? Do you exercise in a ‘driven’ way to try and lose weight or change your shape?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions you may be suffering from an eating disorder and may benefit from our counselling services to help you with the way that you think and feel about eating, weight and yourself.
What Causes an Eating Disorder?
There is no single cause of an Eating Disorder; however, underlying most is low self-esteem. A person develops an Eating Disorder in order to cope or compensate for feelings of worthlessness often reasoning, ‘I may be defective but at least I can be thin’ or ‘People will like me more if I am thin’. An Eating Disorder also commonly occurs when a person feels out of control in other aspects of their life e.g. during major life changes including adolescence and leaving home for the first time. A poor self-image makes it harder for someone to adjust to the changes demanded during these periods leaving them vulnerable to the development of an Eating Disorder; their shape and weight become the only thing that they feel they can control.
Although the thin ideals promoted in the media are often blamed for the development of Eating Disorders it is only those who are already vulnerable as a result of low self-esteem and confidence that will be influenced by these.
What is the Treatment for an Eating Disorder?
The most effective treatment currently available for an Eating Disorder is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). As such it is recommended by the government body NICE as the treatment of choice to aid recovery.
What Does Treatment Involve?
To start with one of our Therapists will meet with you to find out about the nature of your eating issues. They will ask you what you eat and when, whether you binge, purge and exercise and how you feel about your weight and body shape. They will also ask you about other aspects of your life including your physical and mental health in order to get a complete picture of how things are for you. Finally, they will discuss with you what you would like to change and what you would like to stay the same to ensure that the treatment plan they develop fits exactly with what you need and feel able to work on.
Depending on your goals your Therapist will then help you to adjust your current eating pattern and behaviours. This may include keeping a diary of what you eat, strategies for reducing bingeing and purging and ways of increasing your calorie intake in a tolerable way if this is what you would like to do.
Next your Therapist will help you to identify the thoughts and feelings that are maintaining your eating problems and then modify them so that they support a healthier attitude to eating, weight and shape.
You will then work with your Therapist to identify the factors that have led to the development of your eating disorder and either resolve these factors or temper their influence so that you can move forward with your life and no longer need your eating disorder to support you.
The final stage of counselling will involve a period where your Therapist supports you to live without your eating disorder, helping you to address the normal slips and occasional relapses that inevitably occur when you are working to overcome such a problem.
All of our Therapists offer Eating Disorder counselling.