7 Therapy Approaches to Beating an Eating Disorder ...

Beating an eating disorder may seem like an overwhelming job, and though no easy task, it is not impossible. From my personal experience and that of my friends, I know first-hand how devastating eating disorders and their aftermath can be. Recovery does not have a textbook response. There are a myriad of therapy approaches used for beating an eating disorder and claiming back your life.

1. Inpatient

Inpatient is the most well-known form of eating disorder treatment. Residential settings can help establish a safe environment to work through symptoms and distortions without outside triggers. It’s not easy to take time away from school, work and life to commit yourself to getting better, but inpatient facilities provide a space for beating an eating disorder with various therapies. Some of my friends have gone inpatient and though difficult to be away, it allowed them to focus on getting healthy.

2. Outpatient

Outpatient consists of attending a treatment facility daily for therapy. The main difference between this approach and inpatient is that outpatient is not residential. There are still various therapies offered such as Art Therapy, Individual and Group. Each program has different hours but outpatient is a large time commitment no matter how you look at it. The benefits of this approach include hands-on therapy and a strong support system.

3. Individual

Not everyone goes inpatient. Many individuals affected by eating disorders seek individual counseling. This approach consists of weekly (unless otherwise directed) therapy sessions. The pros of individual counseling are the flexibly with your current work or school schedule and the ability to work through problems as they present themselves. When you are surrounded by the same triggers, therapists can help talk you through the thoughts and behaviors that run on repeat in their midst. Personally, I find this approach very impactful.

4. Group

Group therapy is beneficial to individuals with eating disorders because it establishes the fact that you are not alone. Being able to talk with peers who have similar thought patterns and encouraging them to work towards recovery can help you go in the right direction. Though therapists may specialize in eating disorder treatment, there is still a gap between their knowledge and that of someone who has overcome their disorder. Group therapy helps narrow that gap. Whether the group is food-, weight-, stress-, or self-esteem- related, this approach opens you up for discussion.

5. Nutrition Counseling

Anyone with an eating disorder will often recite the riddle, "Eating Disorders have nothing to do with food but they have everything to do with food." This statement is true in the fact that eating disorders are more than just a diet gone wrong. However, this comment does recognize that the distorted thought processes present themselves through food. Nutrition counseling can help you create a foundation for healthy eating. Individuals on meal-plans do not have much say in what they consume but nutrition counseling enables you to learn about food and actively choose to eat healthy. Recognizing food as fuel can be the turning point in beating an eating disorder.

6. Yoga

Eating disorders are underlined by the dissonance of body and mind. Yoga, meanwhile, works to combine body and mind in the present moment. While distorted thoughts can have you escaping the present, the mindfulness of yoga helps you recenter yourself. The compassion and self-care yoga extends teaches you how important it is to care for your body, not destroy it. Though this approach does not use talk therapy to discuss problems, it provides an outlet to release emotions through poses, such as anxiety in Pigeon.

7. Art

Art therapists are working with individuals with eating disorders to help them talk through their emotions and thoughts and express them without using words. From my experience, I know how painful eating disorders are. Being able to paint that pain and sketch that sorrow on a canvas helps alleviate the pit of emotions that you may be overwhelmed with. It also is a good coping skill when you have the urge to use a symptom.

Beating an eating disorder is achievable if you explore the different treatment options and choose the best one for you. Everyone is different so what works for one person may not for another. To me, recovery is worth seeing your friends share in your happiness. What inspires you to recover?