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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Books to Avoid

There are so many pop psychology, clinical, and self-books written nowadays, that I can’t keep up. Most of the time I’m amazed at what, after 30 years in the field, I still can learn. However, occasionally I’m appalled by some of these books which can be detrimental to certain kinds of clients and reinforce their problems, not only with food and weight, but in other areas as well.

Most self-help books are written for the general population—people who are having trouble changing their thinking and behavior in various settings—not for trauma survivors. Yet, more and more, the people I treat come from childhoods that are traumatic, at worst, and seriously dysfunctional, at best. Most already compare themselves intensely unfavorably with others, have major issues with self-esteem, self-worth and self-image, and have spent decades trying to improve their emotional health. considering their backgrounds, nearly all have made incredible strides, but too many remain stuck in old wounds and destructive patterns. Although they generally come to me to treat their eating problems, our work takes us into every aspect of their lives.

Unfortunately, some pop psych books focus only on the present and future, eschew delving into the past, and insist that readers can transform themselves if they simply try harder or hard enough. They blame the reader for lack of progress, implying that she or he is deficient or defective when transformation fails to occur. Diet books do this more than others, but so do some cognitive-behavioral books and other simplistic approaches that assert that change is nothing but mind over matter. While this may be true for folks who’ve had a relatively stable, functional childhood, this perspective may be damaging to individuals who’ve grown up in families in which they suffered abuse or neglect.

Because of how brain circuitry gets established, for trauma survivors, part of creating a new future includes healing from the past. Adaptive responses of fear, anxiety, helplessness, and hopelessness are set down through neural impulses and are not merely stinkin’ thinkin’. Their neurological existence must be recognized, understood, and dealt with. Traumatic childhood survivors cannot simply will themselves upbeat, fearless, hopeful, proactive and well. They must thoroughly explore, work through and change the brain circuitry that their dysfunctional history has set down for them.

Beware of books whose one-size-fits-all approach makes you feel inadequate and less than or insists that the past doesn’t matter. Everything matters: past, present and future.

Backbone, Not Wishbone
Taking the Sting Out of No

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy