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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. 

How to Use Therapy to Move Toward “Normal” Eating

Having been a therapist for more than 30 years, I have some ideas on how to get the most out of the process. As an eating disorders therapist, I also have advice on how to use therapy to help you move toward “normal” eating. Of course, if you’re not in therapy, you can still focus on the areas I highlight to promote psychological healing.

Have an agenda. Clients often wait for me to bring up a topic to talk about, which may be hit or miss on my part. If a client doesn’t raise a subject, I generally ask, “How can I help you today?” This doesn’t mean that you always need to come in with a problem. It’s important for clients to share pride in their accomplishments or progress. Often my validating clients’ concerns or ideas is helpful. It’s fine to occasionally not come prepared with questions, but it doesn’t show much agency or interest in betterment if you’re always depending on your therapist to direct discussion.

Focus on skill building and improvement. To become a “normal” eater, you’ll need topnotch skills in emotional management, self-regulation, self-reflection and interpersonal relations. If you always need to be busy and turn to food when you’re not, ask your therapist to help you learn to tolerate having nothing to do or learning to quiet your mind. If you blow up easily or fear confrontation, ask if you can explore how to contain emotions or what has made you so afraid of displeasing other people. If you’re highly anxious, seek guidance on how to relax and self-soothe, and to avoid attaching to unhelpful or irrational thoughts.

Resolve mixed feelings. Many dysregulated eaters are scared to give up food for comfort. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is necessary to come to terms with. Your therapist doesn’t need to be an expert in eating disorders to help you explore conflicting feelings. Maybe you’re uncomfortable dating and feel less self-conscious at a higher weight. Your therapist won’t know this unless you tell her or him. This sharing is especially important if you’re a survivor of sexual harassment, assault or abuse. Let your therapist know if this is in your history, as unresolved trauma may be deterring you from “normal” eating and becoming healthier.

Be open to suggestions. Ask your therapist what he or she thinks would help you have a better relationship with food and your body. What would be useful to focus on? How could you use therapy to grow psychologically and eat more mindfully? In what ways could you improve your self-care to rely less on food for comfort and pleasure? Try being more proactive in therapy. It’s your time, your money, your job and your life!

Best,

Karen

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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