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Food and other red herrings in the treatment of eating disorders

While we appreciate the close connection between body and mind for all mental health issues, it is absolutely essential to include food and body-image as key components in the treatment of eating disorders. It is also just as important to understand that there are more complex underlying psychological factors at play and that addressing those issues at the appropriate point in time is just as crucial to meaningful and sustained change. Treatment must include direct work with food and body-image issues but real success comes from working with person as a whole and understanding the person beyond the eating disorder. 

There are many additional considerations in the treatment of eating disorders beyond the psychological work. Food is survival and now more than ever, we are constantly surrounded by food and confronted by messages about body image. This brings the struggle of an eating disorder into almost every part of life and with little respite for the sufferer. There is also the pressure of time, with better treatment outcomes associated with early intervention. Eating disorders have the added complication of significant physical health risks making a comprehensive approach to treatment essential. Careful consideration needs to be given to providing the right type of treatment at the right time. Treatment can be delivered in many forms including as an inpatient in hospital, in outpatient day programs where attendance is anything from one day a week to five days a week or with individual sessions with a psychologist for an hour a week.

At our practice, the psychologists working with eating disorders have either direct experience working in specialist eating disorder or bariatric surgery settings or they have access to clinical supervision and training within our practice that is focused on the treatment of eating disorders as well as experience working with private practice clients.

The team all have skills in useful therapies for the treatment of eating disorders such as:

  • Motivational interviewing -for working with the ambivalence that is a common feature of eating disorders.
  • Cognitive and behavioural therapies that help you to target the symptoms of your eating disorder.
  • A range of therapies to address the underlying issues that contributed to the development and maintenance of the eating disorder.

Our first session with you is designed as a more detailed assessment session to understand you and your difficulties and to help you to identify the right type of treatment for you. For your safety and to ensure the best possible treatment outcome for you, we will not recommend individual therapy in our practice if we think there may be a more suitable type of therapy at this point in your treatment.

Psychological work is a vital component in the treatment of eating disorders but safe and effective treatment is best achieved with a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. We strongly encourage regular consultations with an experienced dietician, monitoring of your physical health by your GP and in some cases a psychiatrist. We work closely with a range of professionals and can suggest people you can contact for multi-disciplinary support.


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