Eating disorder counseling is a crucial aspect of any eating disorder treatment program. It offers a wide variety of benefits to individuals receiving enrolled in programs at eating disorder treatment facilities. When eating disorder counseling is part of a comprehensive treatment program, clients are more likely to achieve a full recovery.
Understanding the Development of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can develop for a number of different reasons. In most cases, an eating disorder develops because of a combination of different factors, including body image concerns, peer pressure, exposure to the media, genetics and other characteristics. However, in virtually every case, eating disorders have a psychological component. Many people with eating disorders also have at least one co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
What Is Eating Disorder Counseling?
Eating disorder counseling is a group of methodologies that address the psychological component of eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. As a rule, eating disorder counseling is provided by a trained eating disorder psychiatrist who knows how to evaluate the client thoroughly and identify the different psychological factors that may have led to the development of the disorder and/or contribute to the continuation of the disorder. The psychiatrist or psychologist can then explain each of these factors to the client and help him or her work through each one. For example, if the client has an unrealistic or otherwise distorted body image, the therapist will engage with the client to identify and change the inaccurate thoughts or perceptions that create this negative body image. Likewise, if the client is exhibiting the symptoms of bipolar disorder, the counselor can perform the proper evaluation and make sure the client receives the psychiatric care, including medication, they need.
Eating disorder counseling can be conducted in an individual session, a group session or a session with family members. In some cases, clients may participate in all three forms of eating disorder counseling, as each one can provide different advantages.
Benefits of Eating Disorder Counseling
Some of the primary benefits of eating disorder counseling include:
1. Addressing the psychological components of eating disorders.
Most eating disorders have a psychological component or a comorbid condition. This component typically plays a role in the development of the disorder over time, and influences the cycle of disordered behavior. If these components aren’t properly addressed during treatment, relapse is much more likely. Counseling is a form of eating disorder treatment that addresses the psychological component of eating disorders effectively.
2. Enhancement of the client’s understanding of his or her condition.
Most clients already understand the basics of their disorders. They know that eating disorders pose certain risks and affect their lives negatively. However, they may not fully understand how or why their eating disorder developed, and they may be unsure of the next steps to take to become recovered. During eating disorder counseling, the counselor can help the client to understand the unique factors that led to the development of their eating disorder, as well as the steps that will be required to overcome it.
3. Identification and treatment of co-occurring disorders.
Many patients who have eating disorders have a co-occurring mental health problem as well, such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety or a combination of these issues. During eating disorder counseling, the counselor will look for the signs and symptoms of these other disorders. If they identify another disorder, the proper treatment will be recommended. Some eating disorder treatment facilities provide treatment for co-occurring disorders in the context of their eating disorder treatment programs to improve patient outcomes overall.
4. Development of better body image and self-esteem.
When a client receives treatment from an eating disorder counseling center, he or she is likely to discuss the issues of body image and self-esteem. In many cases, a person who has an eating disorder will suffer from low self-esteem and a negative body image. Together, these issues may contribute to the development of the disorder and/or they may make the disorder worse over time. In eating disorder counseling, one of the goals will be to evaluate the client’s self-esteem and body image. If the counselor finds that the client has low self-esteem and/or a negative body image, he or she will work to correct these issues through therapy to reduce the chances of relapse after treatment is complete.
5. A chance for clients to express themselves in a safe environment.
Individuals who have eating disorders are often dealing with many issues that may exacerbate or complicate the disorder itself. Also, these individuals may have several questions or concerns about the disorder and their ability to overcome it. For example, many clients worry about how they will continue their recovery after the treatment program is complete, especially if they are enrolled in residential treatment. In addition, many clients deal with feelings of guilt or shame over the effects of their eating disorder. Eating disorder counseling provides clients with an opportunity to speak freely about their feelings and concerns in a safe environment. It also allows them a chance to ask any questions they have without worrying about the judgments or opinions of others.
6. Development of better coping skills for use after treatment.
After the completion of a treatment program, clients must go back to their day-to-day lives and do their best to maintain good eating habits. However, life outside of treatment is often complicated, and certain stressors or difficult life situations can make relapse more likely to occur. To reduce the risk of relapse, most eating disorder treatment programs encourage the development of coping skills, which are strategies the client can use to deal with these stressful situations when they occur.
7. A chance to learn from others.
When eating disorder counseling is in the form of a group counseling session, clients can gain support and encouragement from other people who are struggling with the same problems in an environment moderated by a professional counselor. During these sessions, clients may also hear advice and ideas from other people with eating disorders that they can apply to their own lives.
8. A chance to mend and/or strengthen family relationships.
When eating disorder counseling sessions are conducted with family members, clients and their families have an opportunity to discuss and resolve conflicts. This is also a good time for family members to learn more about their loved one’s disorder so they can provide more effective support throughout the treatment process and after the program is complete.
Other Treatment Options for Eating Disorders
Eating disorder treatment facilities that offer counseling as a form of treatment for eating disorders usually offer other treatment options as well. Other treatment options for eating disorders may include medical care, nutritional rehabilitation and stabilization, fitness services, family education, spirituality services, career planning, and life-enhancing experiences. The best eating disorder treatment programs will offer a variety of these treatment options so clients can address all aspects of their eating disorders effectively. At Oliver-Pyatt, treatment programs can include all of these different forms of therapy.
How to Choose an Eating Disorder Counseling Center
Eating disorder counseling centers vary considerably, in both the quality and types of care available which can make it difficult for patients or their families to select the right facility. In fact, most eating disorder treatment programs include counseling, so you won’t be able to rule out many facilities on the basis of counseling alone. When comparing counseling programs, be sure to consider each of the following factors.
- Location of the facility. – Many patients look for an eating disorder treatment center that isn’t too far from home. This is especially important for patients who are interested in day treatment programs and hope to maintain some of their normal daily activities when therapy isn’t in session.
- The quality of the counseling program. – Perhaps the most important consideration when comparing differing counseling centers is the quality of the counseling program itself. Be sure to pay attention to the training and credentials of the therapists, the structure of the counseling program and the stated goals of treatment.
- Other available options. – Counseling is rarely the only type of treatment available from a given facility. Before selecting any counseling center, be sure to consider the other types of therapy available from that establishment. Look for a treatment facility that offers a wide variety of therapies and customizes treatment programs to meet the needs of each individual client.
- The overall reputation of the facility. – Another important characteristic to consider when comparing different eating disorder treatment centers is the facility’s overall reputation. Evaluating a facility’s reputation allows you to see how other clients have felt about their experiences at this facility. You can learn about a treatment center’s reputation by researching the facility online, reading testimonials and looking through reviews from past clients.
- The facility’s success rate. – An eating disorder treatment facility’s success rate tells you what portion of clients complete the program successfully and can achieve recovery. Inquire about the facility’s success rate before you enroll in a program. The higher the program’s success rate, the more likely it is for each client to achieve success in the program.
- The level of support provided. – Some eating disorder treatment centers provide only basic treatment services, while others provide clients with intensive support throughout the treatment process. In general, it is better to look for a facility that provides a higher level of support.
- Price. – Although it isn’t the only factor you should consider, most potential clients will need to think about the affordability of a treatment program or the types of insurance they accept before they enroll.
Different clients may have different priorities when it comes to eating disorder treatment. Make sure you know what you are looking for in a treatment facility before you begin the comparison process.
How Can I Find an Eating Disorder Treatment Center Near Me?
Some people simply type “eating disorder treatment near me” into Google’s search bar and choose the first treatment center they find. However, this is not the best strategy for finding an effective treatment center. When you choose the first facility you find, you may not be selecting the best treatment program for your needs. Instead, you should research and compare your options carefully before making a choice. Some clients may even choose to attend eating disorder treatment further from home for a more immersive experience.
Oliver-Pyatt offers day treatment through several convenient locations in California, Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Whether you are looking for male eating disorder treatment centers, female eating disorder treatment centers, coed treatment programs or programs designed specifically for adolescents, we have a location that can meet your needs. We offer both residential treatment and day treatment programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our services.