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Exploring the Role of Individual, Group and Family Therapy in Eating Disorder Recovery

While receiving care at an eating disorder recovery center, patients can greatly benefit from attending individual, group and family therapy sessions. These varied therapies allow patients to explore and challenge the underlying causes of their eating disorder, develop coping skills and receive support on the path to recovery. When searching for an “eating disorder treatment center near me” one should look for a treatment center that provides individual, group and family therapy options. Each of these therapies will provide patients the opportunity to better understand the role of the eating disorder in his or her lives and develop positive coping skills to utilize in the future.

Types of Eating Disorders That Respond Well to Therapy

Individual, group and family therapy approaches can help patients work through barriers to reaching and maintaining a healthy self. Individual therapy allows for one-on-one in-depth discussions and exploration with a therapist, while group and family therapy opens allows for additional insights from peers and loved ones. These therapy options are often effective in treating different types of eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, pica and night eating syndrome.

Therapists will develop an individualized treatment, based on the individual’s unique diagnosis, history and co-occurring disorders. With an individualized treatment program, patients can utilize the support and resources needed to overcome any challenges that may arise while on the path to recovery.

Therapy Addresses Underlying Causes of the Eating Disorder

In most cases, a combination of social, biological and environmental causes trigger the development of an eating disorder at a young age. Skilled therapists utilize the most effective and evidence-based methods to help their patients identify the underlying causes of their eating disorder.

Therapists help patients reflect on their family background, personal temperament and other factors that may have influenced the shift to disordered eating patterns. Trauma and neglect can also have a powerful impact on a person’s propensity to develop an eating disorder. Exploring and understanding these underlying factors is a key element of recovery.

Goals of Individual Therapy

Individual therapy provides a direct therapist-patient connection to help individuals overcome major disruptive challenges in their lives. When recovering from an eating disorder, patients may meet with their therapist on a weekly basis, or more frequently, to begin the healing process. The total length of time patients remains in therapy for eating disorders depends on the individual’s needs.

The first individual therapy sessions allow patients to forge a connection with their therapist. Patients provide information about their current state of health (mental and physical), eating disorder struggles, past experiences and other factors that may be relevant to treatment and recovery. At subsequent sessions, a therapist will help patients delve deep into their challenges and the underlying factors of the eating disorder to begin the process of healing. Everything discussed in individual therapy remains private. The safe atmosphere and guaranteed confidentiality encourages patients to speak honestly about barriers to healing. The open communication lines between therapist and patient help facilitate a genuine relationship that supports and propels the recovery process.

Group Therapy Dynamics

In group therapy, patients can act as a soundboard for each other’s thoughts, feelings and concerns. The group typically meets on a weekly basis, if not more often, to discuss challenges and barriers to healing. While working with a group, therapists play an integral role in leading the discussions and facilitating healthy communication between group members.

The group therapy dynamic typically helps patients improve their ability to stay mindful and accountable during recovery. Members of the group are encouraged to talk about their journey toward becoming fully recovered from their eating disorders. The varied perspectives help many patients achieve personal growth and work through the barriers to their recovery.

A group therapy setting may help abate the sense of loneliness and isolation that can accompany the development of an eating disorder. Through the sharing of experiences, group members can lift each other up and offer encouragement with their own stories. An increased sense of support often arises in patients who attend group therapy on a regular basis.

Healing Through Family Therapy Sessions

While at eating disorder treatment centers, family therapy encourages the patient’s loved ones to participate in sessions. These intimate therapy sessions bring the family together to create a social network the patient can rely on while on the path to recovery. The sessions may also help family members learn healthy coping mechanisms in relation to the eating disorder and its impact on the family unit.

The family therapy sessions at eating disorder treatment centers aim to improve collaboration across the familial group to break down systemic issues. During these sessions, the patient, family and therapist set realistic goals everyone can work together to accomplish. The goals will frequently revolve around resolving underlying issues that may have contributed to the development and maintenance of the patient’s eating disorder.

Many people find continuing family therapy outside of the eating disorder recovery center setting helps reinforce the skills learned while working toward recovery. Sustained family involvement helps improve the communication and support within the family unit overall, and for the individual working toward recovery.

Types of Individual, Group and Family Therapy

There are many evidence-based therapy methods utilized today. The leading approaches for eating disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients remain mindful of their thoughts and feelings and challenge their maladaptive belief systems. At an eating disorder treatment near me, patients will have the opportunity to share their formative life experiences, including potential instances of trauma, with their therapist. During this process, the therapist will help patients make a list of conquerable goals, potentially outside of their comfort zone, while providing positive coping skills to address any potential triggering thoughts. The goals usually center around activities, thoughts or feelings that cause the patient immense distress. Patients must utilize the coping skills learned in therapy to address and work through the feelings of stress or discomfort.

Emotion-Focused Therapy

Patients with strong avoidant behaviors can have a difficult time addressing the emotions behind their eating disorder behaviors. Emotion-focused therapy directly addresses the tendency to avoid situations and ignore emotions when faced with stressors. This therapy was originally developed specifically for eating disorders, and continues to help patients on the path to recovery. The three-step process halts negative emotions, restructures the situation and activates the appropriate emotions. Patients tend to develop more positive thought patterns while remaining mindful about their emotions and verifying they are appropriate for the situation.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Patients follow a five-step process. Patients begin with the training phase to learn behavioral skills that can reduce their reliance on maladaptive coping methods. The second stage includes individual, group and family therapy. The third stage focuses on teaching clients how to more positively react to stressors or triggers. The fourth stage is often optional, though helpful for many working toward recovery. This stage focuses on finding a spiritual meaning of life.

When actively participating in the best eating disorder treatment, patients will have access to a wide range of effective therapy options, including those mentioned above. An individualized treatment approach allows therapists to determine the therapy type and arrangement that would work best for each patient.

How a Multi-Faceted Therapy Approach Improves Recovery from Eating Disorders

When used as part of a comprehensive eating disorder treatment plan, individual, group and family therapy all have the power to help patients overcome their greatest challenges. Therapy acts as a powerful tool that helps reveal the inner workings of the brain and strengthens the mind-body connection.

While at eating disorder treatment centers, patients receive support with body and mind acceptance. The ability to accept new, more positive perspectives often requires completion of many different types of individual, group and family therapy sessions.

Acquire the Support You Need at an Eating Disorder Recovery Center

Effective eating disorder treatment centers integrate individual, group and family therapy into their programs. These three therapy types help patients challenge their beliefs and develop coping skills in both a group and individual setting. Therapists play a vital role in promoting productive, positive interactions throughout the sessions. The best eating disorder treatment directly addresses the patient’s unique needs while in treatment and on the path to recovery. Individuals with eating disorders can receive the support they need by reaching out to our team at 888-228-1253. We continuously strive to help our patients find the best level of care for their needs at our eating disorder treatment center.