How do I know if I am a candidate for therapy?
There are several questions you must first ask yourself. Do you feel as though any aspect of your life has become unmanageable? Perhaps you are not able to function in some capacity- your relationships are suffering, you are struggling at work, etc. Do you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about food and/or your weight? Do you engage in destructive behaviors such as binging, compulsive exercising, restricting, substance abuse, destructive relationships, etc.? Do you often feel sad or anxious and can't seem to cope? Do you feel like no one will understand what you are experiencing, that you are alone or lack a support system? Do you feel as though your poor self-image prevents you from moving forward in your life? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are a candidate for therapy.
What does therapy entail? What can I expect?
My belief is that therapy is a collaborative experience between therapist and client. My objective is to create a safe environment for my clients in which they can develop better coping mechanisms and explore the root of their behaviors that have proven to be destructive. Providing a supportive environment in which one can explore their feelings and their thoughts is the key to transforming any emotional experience. Much of the therapeutic process is dependent on what the client presents. Perhaps the need of the client is to work through a current life change and requires simply evaluating current beliefs and behaviors. Perhaps the issues presented require deeper evaluation of past experiences to gain a greater perspective of how these impacts your sense of well-being today. Through careful examination, we will determine the process of therapy for you.
How do you treat eating disordered behaviors such as bulimia, anorexia, binge eating disorder, orthorexia and all eating disordered behavior in the spectrum?
My approach to treatment is comprehensive. Education is a major part of treatment. It is important for the client to understand the psychological underpinnings of any eating disordered behavior. Also, there is a strong physiological component to maladaptive eating. With eating disorders, there is a great deal of co-morbidity with mood disorders and addiction. When necessary, I will refer a client to a psychiatric and/or medical evaluation as an adjunct to therapy. In many cases, the nutritional piece requires regular and consistent treatment in which case I also refer out to trusted and experienced dietician.
To be clear, not everyone with BED is overweight and/or obese. Obesity, in and of itself, is not the issue- the number on the scale is NOT the issue. Behaviors that contribute to obesity are the focus of treatment- not one's weight. There can be major health implications with obesity, such as diabetes, elevated blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease in which case it may be important to evaluate one's nutritional intake. This is not the case for all individuals who are overweight. HEALTH, emotionally and physically, is the objective- no matter what size.
I often recommend journaling or other forms of keeping record in order to create mindfulness/awareness around triggers for unhealthy eating behaviors. An example of this might be keeping an extended food log in which the client tracks what they eat, what they are feeling or thinking and what they are doing as an activity when they eat. This is one tool that provides a great deal of insight into destructive patterns. From this, we can begin to create better tools for coping.
I don't binge, purge or restrict. However, I seem to be preoccupied with food, calories and my weight. Is therapy something that will help?
Yes! You might not have a diagnosis of binge eating disorder, bulimia or anorexia, but you do have an unhealthy preoccupation with food and/or your body. You might have a diagnosis of unspecified feeding or eating disorder (formerly known as eating disorder not otherwise specified). This can be equally destructive to one's well-being. In fact, I am seeing more and more presentations of orthorexia- rigid food beliefs around "healthy" eating. I will help you develop a healthier, more balanced relationship with food. Poor body image is a pervasive problem in our society. Unfortunately, we are saturated with images of thinness that are unrealistic and ultimately quite damaging to our self-esteem. Through supportive guidance, we'll explore how to shift your poor self-image toward a more accepting sense of self.
I have low self-esteem. How would therapy help me?
Therapy provides a deep exploration of the origins of your beliefs about the self. Often, these are old messages or experiences that took place long ago. Unfortunately, these old messages and experiences left you feeling unworthy. Does your low self-esteem prevent you from living a full life? Do you find yourself engaging in destructive relationships and/or behaviors? Do you avoid certain social situations and/or work opportunities because you do not believe in yourself? We'll unlock old beliefs and work toward providing you with new perspective of yourself and your future.
Do you work with other issues aside from eating disorders, obesity and self-esteem?
Of course. In fact, when we get underneath the eating disordered or maladaptive eating behaviors (or any addictive process, for that matter), we generally find similar core experiences. Some of these are depression, anxiety, loss and trauma and co-occurring addiction, such as alcohol or other substances. Working with these issues is fundamental to anyone's recovery process. Often, clients come into my office to explore the root of their depression or anxiety and don't present with any eating disordered behavior. Again, through collaboration, we determine the process together.
Do you work with only adults? Do you see couples and/or children?
In addition to working with adults, I do work with adolescents and teens. Adolescence can be such a challenging time emotionally. Helping adolescents and teens navigate the developmental process is invaluable to their future sense of self. I also do work with couples. Often, as an adjunct to one's individual therapy, I will bring in one's spouse/partner/family member to offer support in the healing process. Including family members and loved ones in the recovery process is often very powerful. It is only don't when the client is prepared for such interaction and is done in a very supportive manner.
Lastly, how long does therapy take?
Simply put, that is up to you. Each individual comes in with different needs. In order to get the most out of the therapeutic process, it is up to you to do the work. There is no quick fix. I will supportively guide you through the process and help you develop the tools to move forward. As a team, we'll unlock your potential to create a healthier self.