Eating disorders occur in males and females and are present across a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. Individuals with eating disorders develop an unusual relationship with food, resulting in dysfunctional eating behaviours that may include eating much less or more than is required, completely cutting out certain types of food due to an intense fear of weight gain, exercising excessively, developing a rigid, inflexible food plan, counting calories excessively, or chewing very slowly and eating extremely small portions.
Admitting that an eating disorder has developed is a very brave and courageous step. Many individuals are in denial about their eating disorder and only acknowledge their problematic behaviours once their health is severely impacted. Since the behaviours of an eating disorder are unique across clients, the treatment plan too, is unique. In therapy, we largely explore the meaning that clients give to their eating disorder, how they developed their relationship with food, and the purpose that the eating disorder served in their life. Once clients understand the cause of their eating disorder, they often view themselves through a nonjudgmental lens, which is a crucial step in the healing process.
In order to help clients overcome their eating disorder, I use a variety of therapy models, such as narrative therapy in order to separate the disorder from the person. When clients perceive their issue as separate from the self, they are more likely to activate their self-healing capacities, which is important for experiencing change and growth. I also use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for challenging some of the thoughts that clients have about food. Once clients gain insight into their personalized history of the eating disorder, as well as the resources that they have for overcoming their dysfunctional eating patterns, they begin their journey to recovery.