When You Need More Than Therapy
Although I value psychotherapy tremendously, both personally and professionally, sometimes it’s not enough to heal clients from eating disorders. Therapy is certainly a “cornerstone” or “lifeline” for building a better life, but by itself may not produce the successes clients seek and deserve. Here are some adjunctive activities that are enormously helpful for a true and full recovery from eating and body image disorders.
Group Therapy “involves one or more [psychotherapists] who lead a group of roughly five to 15 patients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only. Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who have experienced loss, whether it be a spouse, a child or someone who died by suicide.” (https://www.apa.org/topics/group-therapy, accessed 8/27/20) Group therapy leaders are licensed therapists trained to lead therapy groups. Psychotherapy groups for couples involve both partners joining a group of other couples.
Support Group “members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Support_group) Support groups are generally led by a facilitator or sometimes co-led. There are also peer-led groups in which each member takes a turn at leading a group.
Workshops are focused on learning specific concepts and skills and are usually short-term, from half-day to several sessions over several months. I ran “Quit Fighting with Food” workshops that were generally 1.5-2-hour sessions for 4-12 weeks. Workshops are structured, focused, practical, leader led and considered psycho-educational, whereas psychotherapy groups are generally more process oriented.
Support groups or workshops that are excellent additions to psychotherapy for speeding recovery focus on: mindful or intuitive eating, meditation, mindfulness, parenting, PTSD, interpersonal skills, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anger management.