Treating the Whole Person

We hope you enjoy the final post in our four part series on the treatment of co-occurring disorders and eating disorders at Oliver-Pyatt Centers. Thank you to the Director of Substance Abuse Program Lisa Richberg, LMHC who speaks to treating the whole person. Check here for the first, second, and third posts within the series.


What is the true nature of the relationship between substance abuse and eating disorders? This is a question that has challenged the community for years. At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we have sought to explain the relationship between these two devastating addictions and to treat them using a whole person, individualized approach.

Both eating disorders and substance abuse serve the same function. They help those suffering from anxiety, depression and hopelessness to cope with these emotions through disconnection. Over the years, I have observed that most of my clients are disconnected from themselves, their loved ones, and their own bodies. The disconnection often eases immediate, intense feelings of pain and anxiety, yet the relief from this manner of coping is short lived. Before long they realize that these methods of disconnection only serve to enhance the negative emotions.

In the development of the substance abuse program at Oliver-Pyatt Centers we have sought to create a model by which we treat the whole person. If clients fail to treat both eating disorder and co-occurring disorder issues at a higher level of care, chances are, when not engaging in one set of behaviors, they will use the other as a comfortable and familiar way of managing distress. Each individual comes to us with a unique set of circumstances and, therefore, we are charged with treating more than eating disorders alone. Working with the whole person we ensure that when clients leave our care they have a deeper understanding of the relationship between their addictions, a better understanding of what triggers urges to use their behaviors, and alternative ways of managing their distress.

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