Our experienced team of eating disorder therapists works both individually and in group therapy, to help our clients unmask key issues underlying eating disorder symptoms and coach our clients to practice new life skills while in treatment. Clients learn what might be holding them back, what they are afraid of, and slowly confront those fears through exposure and self-evaluation. We teach clients how to practice and master new patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving on a daily basis. Clients obtain life skills and practice "real life" situations to gain a sense of competency and self-efficacy that provides the foundation to recovery.
The Lone Cypress
Sometimes the triggers released when returning to the home environment are too great to overcome. Sometimes there isn't enough stepdown transition to allow for the unmasking of the fears that were once dealt with only through the addiction's numbing, so the client feels terrified. Often the eating disorder serves many functions and residential treatment is unable to re-create the exact trigger in order to then create healthy replacements.
The transition from residential care to an outpatient program is often difficult, and individuals are frequently prone to relapse. Our treatment team anticipates probable lapses as we work to help clients achieve a level of support conducive to continuing recovery at a lower level of care. For clients being seen on an outpatient basis, and who need more support around eating behaviors, we provide a structured, day-treatment program that helps them achieve their goals.Goals of Our Eating Disorders Program
We help our clients unmask key issues during individual psychotherapy, identify their fears and confront, those issues in the real world. Our coaching guides clients to confront their fears through gradual exposure and thoughtful support. Then clients learn how to "show up" for life's obligations by practicing and eventually mastering new patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Clients learn new tools to foster feelings of competency, effectiveness and pride as they deal with previously overwhelming and unwanted emotions.
For some clients, day treatment (PHP) or intensive outpatient (IOP) may contain the problem sufficiently. With a strong support system that the client will allow to provide needed help, outpatient treatment alone may succeed. But breaking patterns that have become severe and chronic requires higher levels of care, including a period of inpatient or residential care.
To optimize the client's ability to acquire control over the addictive process, initial phases of treatment are typically coordinated with a dietitian and psychiatrist. Once symptoms stabilize, the client often experiences the more intense emotions that the eating disorder was being used, in part, to suppress. At this point, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and mindfulness work can be useful to build tolerance for these emotions and foster the emotional intelligence necessary for creative problem-solving.
Work with a life coach to master the experiences that were previously overwhelming can often be of benefit. If past trauma or overwhelming developmental experiences contributed to the development of the eating disorder, or to an underlying depressive or anxiety disorder, trauma resolution and grief and loss work are often used.
What is an Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder is any collection of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors around food or weight management that has become extreme or unmanageable and potentially destructive to health, self, and relationships. There are different types of eating disorders and individuals often cycle between diagnoses, yet professionals agree that that afflicted share a dysfunctional relationship with food and often (but not always) their own body. Frequently, clients who struggle with eating disorders have comorbid psychiatric disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety, impulse-control problems, and substance-abuse disorders. Eating disorders cause serious emotional and physical problems for both males and females of all races, in all age groups, and are life-threatening. In the course of a ten-year period, one in ten individuals who struggle with an eating disorder will die.
Anorexia Nervosa is a clinical term, describing the suppression of or refusal to acknowledge appetite and typically results in excessive weight loss. This psychiatric disorder is characterized by an unrealistic fear of weight gain, which leads to self-starvation and a distortion of body image. The individual is obsessed with weight control and restricts intake to the point where physical and mental health is compromised. Individuals demonstrate inappropriate or highly specific and disciplined eating habits and rituals. A restriction is maintained through various cognitive biases that alter how the affected individual evaluates and thinks about their body, food, and eating.
While the majority of those with anorexia continue to feel hunger, they deny themselves all but very small quantities of food, and few food choices. The caloric intake of people with anorexia can vary significantly between individuals and over time, depending on whether they engage in binging and/or purging. Extreme cases of complete self-starvation are known. Anorexia is a serious health risk with a high incidence of comorbidity and equally high mortality rate as compared to other serious psychiatric disorders.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by the consumption of unusually large amounts of food in a short period of time, followed by vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives or diuretics to shed calories and avoid weight gain. People with bulimia report feeling out of control during binging episodes and are often overly concerned with appearance.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food, often quickly and to the point of physical discomfort. Binge eating can involve preexisting periods of restriction and rigidity with food or periodic dieting and/or fasting. Individuals report feeling out of control during binges, along with a sense of profound shame and guilt following bingeing episodes. Typically, binge eating is difficult to treat by simply attempting self-control and requires a restriction of one's life decisions.
Eating Disorders as Addictions
Though eating disorders fall into a distinctive diagnostic category, they have elements in common with other addictive disorders.
Specifically, bingeing, purging and restricting typically escalate over time (as the person builds a tolerance to the behavior), so more is necessary to achieve the temporary "relief” that was originally pleasurable. Secrecy, minimization, and denial routinely increase as eating disorder behavior escalates. The purging that occurs with bulimia may take multiple forms that include extensive, even d an ngerous levels of laxative and diuretic use, exercise that grows increasingly compulsive, and vomiting that can become habitual anytime food is consumed. Yet despite the dangers, the behavior continues, similar to an addict’s compulsive need to satisfy his addiction, despite loss of health, job, family and possibly death.