How Do You Find the Right Eating Disorder Therapist For You?
I have been getting a lot of questions on social media and in-person about the role eating disorder therapists have played in my recovery. This week, I’d like to share a few tips that are based on my personal experience of finding the right eating disorder professionals throughout my journey. It was an essential, yet very stressful, process. I have had to switch eating disorder therapists a few times, mainly due to reasons related to insurance coverage, relocation on either my end or theirs, as well as the need to seek out more specialized care at different points in my eating disorder recovery process.
How I Hunted for the Right Eating Disorder Therapist
Do your research based on your needs: A lot of the issues that I needed to address in therapy for my eating disorder obviously had to do with self-harm and body image. Since I suffered from bulimia, many of the behaviors associated with the disease are often perceived as ‘disgusting’ (see post: You’re bulimic? You do what?). I assessed early on, that it was important to find a eating disorder therapist with whom I’d feel comfortable discussing all of the details related to my illness without fear of judgment. Simply put, if I felt shy opening up about it all to the therapist in front of me, I knew it wasn’t the right fit.
Finding an eating disorder therapist is like dating: I’ve had my share of therapists with whom I couldn’t connect, regardless of their impressive professional credentials or the reliable referrals. I kept telling myself during those sessions, that even though the chemistry wasn’t perfect, there might still be something important for me to gain from our interaction. The fact remains, that not everyone we meet in life becomes a lifelong friend or partner and during those sessions, I was still one step closer to getting better because, at least, I was talking to a professional about whatever was on my mind. I kept an open mind and at the same time, continued to look for that perfect fit.
Know that you are the one in the driver’s seat: My eating disorder therapists helped me to shed some light on my emotions, decipher my triggers (read about eating disorder triggers and social events plus eating disorder triggers and food anxiety) and figure out my patterns. But I was always at liberty to accept their assessment or disagree with it if, at times, it didn’t resonate with me. This didn’t discount their professional expertise if I felt they didn’t quite ‘get’ me, nor did it negate the work we’d done in prior sessions if I found myself at odds with their comments further into treatment. What it meant in those instances was that I was progressing in my recovery and perhaps becoming more aware of my emotions and learning to understand them. Sometimes, I took some of my therapist’s comments with a grain of salt and moved on to the next session.
Know when it’s time to call it quits with your therapist or explore other options: If you constantly find yourself wondering after your sessions if it’s worth it, or if you don’t feel ‘heard’ by your therapist, you might want to reassess your needs. That’s happened to me a couple of times. Once, I reached a point where I wanted to look into other forms of care. At that time, I decided to combine talk therapy with guided meditation because I felt I had reached a plateau in therapy but wasn’t ready to quit altogether. I could only afford a few sessions with a meditation coach, but they helped me tremendously. Looking back, it was the work done with my eating disorder therapist that encouraged me to trust myself enough to seek help with another professional.
What’s your experience been like in looking for, finding and keeping an eating disorder therapist in your journey to recovery? Do you struggle with this relationship? Comment below.
Lemoine, P. (2013, July 16). How Do You Find the Right Eating Disorder Therapist For You?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2013/07/how-do-you-find-the-right-eating-disorder-therapist-for-you
Author: Patricia Lemoine
Thank you for your comments. I was undiagnosed and untreated for a long time. Once I got the ball rolling after deciding it was time and was sick of lying to myself, it was easier to live altogether.
I appreciate your support & thank you for what you said. I do hope it can all be helpful to ppl suffering from #ed.
I understand what you mean by the thought of being perceived by others as sthing short of being perfect.
I empathize with what you are going through. Loud and clear, I hear that you're scared. It's normal.
Try to flip it around: if it's that scary & you know in your gut it's the right thing to do, then imagine how amazing it'll be once you've crossed over to the other side and you've done it.
Sending much much love your way. #staystrong.
Well. Almost a year later and im about to do a PHP specifically for EDs. Things got worse than I thought, according to the labwork. 4-6 weeks, then step down. I know this is random but i just got the call and its overwhelming, especially bc my mom is calling my sister and dad to tell them. They dont know. My sister called me, told me she thinks even better of me for doing it, and that its the right thing to do.
The thought of sharing this with the person im seeing though is super scary, since i have trouble with people seeing me as anything other than perfect.
The thought of intense treatment always intrigued me, but now that its happening it is terrifying and id rather just not do it, even though i will.
Thanks for letting me rant -____-
It must have been hard having bulimia. It's a good thing that you found about it early on. I think seeing an eating disorder therapist early on is really helpful. Actually admiting that you have an eating disorder is a good sign. Anyway, these tips will definitely help a lot of people with eating disorders like you seek help.