Eating disorder counseling is an important component of eating disorder recovery and offers a wide variety of benefits to individuals enrolled in programs at eating disorder treatment facilities. When eating disorder counseling is part of a treatment program, clients are more likely to achieve and maintain 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 most cases, eating disorders also have a psychological component. Many people with eating disorders have at least one co-occurring mental health disorder, such as a depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
What Is Eating Disorder Counseling?
Eating disorder counseling is a form of therapy that addresses the psychological component of eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. In most cases, eating disorder counseling is provided by a treatment team, including psychologists, medical professionals, therapists and an eating disorder psychiatrist. The combined skills and communication between the treatment team members allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the client and identification of the different psychological factors that may have led to the development of and/or contributing to the maintenance of the disorder.
The treatment team 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 negative body image, the treatment team will work with the client to identify and change the inaccurate thoughts or perceptions that create this negative body image. Likewise, if the client is exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder, the treatment team can ensure the client receives the medical care he or she needs.
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:
- A chance to address psychological components of eating disorders.
Most eating disorders have a psychological component. This component typically plays a role in the development and maintenance of the disorder over time. If it isn’t properly addressed during treatment, relapse is more likely. Counseling is a form of eating disorder treatment that effectively addresses the psychological component of eating disorders.
- Enhancement of the client’s understanding of his or her condition.
Some individuals may not fully understand how or why their eating disorder developed, and they may be unsure of how to overcome the symptoms. During eating disorder counseling, the counselor can help the client understand the unique factors that led to the development of his or her eating disorder, as well as the steps required to overcome it.
- Identification and treatment of co-occurring disorders.
Many patients who have eating disorders have a co-occurring mental health diagnosis, such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety or a combination of these issues. During eating disorder counseling, the therapist will look for the signs and symptoms of these disorders. If he or she identifies another disorder, the proper treatment will be recommended. If you are struggling with co-occurring disorders, you should look for eating disorder treatment facilities that are also capable of addressing and treating these co-occurring disorders.
- 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 and/or maintenance of the disorder. In eating disorder counseling, one of the clinical goals will be to evaluate the client’s self-esteem and body image. If the counselor finds the client has low self-esteem and/or a negative body image, he or she will work to explore and address these issues through therapy; this may reduce the chances of relapse after treatment is complete.
- 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. In addition, these individuals may have 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.
- 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 while working on their recovery. Life outside of treatment is often complicated, and certain stressors or difficult life situations can make relapse more likely. 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.
- A chance to learn from others.
When eating disorder counseling is in the form of a group counseling session, clients are able to 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.
- 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 offer counseling in addition to other treatment modalities. Other treatment options for eating disorders may include medical care, nutritional rehabilitation and stabilization, relationship with movement, 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 Monte Nido, treatment programs can include all of these different forms of therapy.
Choosing an Eating Disorder Counseling Center
Eating disorder counseling centers vary considerably, 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. *Please speak with a medical professional to choose the best treatment center for you; it may at times be a location that is farther away, but can provide more comprehensive treatment.
- 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 options available: 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.
- 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.
- Facility’s success rate: An eating disorder treatment facility’s success rate tells you what portion of clients complete the program successfully and are on the road to 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 individual 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 before they enroll. Remember to consider not only the basic price but the value of the treatment you will receive compared to its cost. You should also reach out to the treatment centers you are considering and ask to speak with their admissions department to gather more information regarding price, insurance and payment options.
Different clients may have different priorities when it comes to eating disorder treatment. Make sure you know what you are looking for, based in part on the recommendation of a medical professional, 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 eating disorder treatment further from home for a more immersive experience.
Monte Nido offers eating disorder 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, co-ed 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.