Supporting the Whole Person in Eating Disorder Recovery - Courtney Rhea-Ribeiro
As a clinician specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, I often hear these two questions:
“How do you treat an eating disorder? Is it mostly just feeding people?”
If you’ve never had an eating disorder, had a loved one who struggled with one, or been trained on how to treat one, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to help. The fact is, eating disorder treatment is complicated.
Eating disorders do not happen in a vacuum. As a clinician, it is my role to help patients attain and tolerate adequate and steady nutrition and to help them work through, explore, and process what has lead to the imbalance in their relationship with food.
Emotional aspects of treatment
Eating disorders are mood related, so there are always underlying emotional issues that are fueling the disordered behavior. I work with a multidisciplinary team so that we can best treat the whole person, since eating disorders affect body, mind, and spirit.
Some of the most common issues that are known to accompany eating disorders are:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Trauma and other life stressors
- Bipolar illness
Sometimes, it can be difficult for a person to be able to tell if they are struggling in this area, as our culture promotes certain body ideals and a diet mentality.
“Healthy eating and exercise” can, for some, lead to obsession and compulsive behaviors with nutrition and/or their workout regime.
When we, as professionals, treat eating disorders, we want to help monitor and heal the physical body, but we also want to address the underlying issues that are perpetuating the disordered eating.
Can people recover from an eating disorder?
Recovery is definitely possible. Healing from an eating disorder can be a long process, but it is a path well-traveled with the support of not just professionals, but friends and family.
If you are worried about someone you care for, and suspect that they may have an eating disorder, you can always call Eating Recovery Center at (877) 920-2902 to speak to one of our intake clinicians. The consultation is free, and our trained clinicians will be happy to help you set up an assessment in person, or by phone. This way, you or your loved one will be able to decide if therapy would be a useful tool. The assessment is free and can really help guide you toward the next step on your journey.
Thankfully, eating disorder awareness is growing and it is important to know that resources and help are available for you and for those that you care about. Two of the most important aspects that we focus on when treating our patients are respect and compassion.
You are not alone.
Courtney Rhea-Ribeiro is a Primary Clinician at Eating Recovery Center, California.