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. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

Film Review: To The Bone

Film-Review-To-The-Bone
I saw an interesting Netflix movie specifically about anorexia but also about eating disorder (ED) problems and recovery in general: To the Bone. It was painful to watch as an ED therapist (though not as someone fully recovered from chronic dieting, body dysmorphia, binge-eating and bulimia). Though it may make people with active eating disorders or in early recovery uncomfortable, this is not a reason to avoid watching it. I’m not about to critique the film, which is, like most films, imperfect in some ways (just like us!). For that, here’s an excellent review. My purpose is to point out what can be gleaned from the movie that is helpful to putting an eating disorder behind you. The story follows “Ellen” through treatment for anorexia. Previous inpatient stays have fallen short, so she heads for a place that’s a last resort. It’s common for dysregulated eaters to enter treatment and drop...
Continue reading

Micro-aggressions Against the Self

Micro-aggressions-Against-the-Self
These days we hear a good deal about micro-aggressions against others but may never think about how we use them against ourselves. The term is defined as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).” I’m using the term loosely here and not attempting to take anything away from interpersonal affronts that do great damage to marginalized groups and the people in them. I’m thinking about micro-aggressions as the unkind to downright nasty things we say to ourselves about ourselves that make us feel marginalized or disconnected from our better intentions. Like micro-aggressions said to others, these words are so subtly embedded in our culture and minds that we barely or rarely realize the harm they do. Here's an example. Lena, a client who’s a real go-getter, was relating all the things...
Continue reading

What’s the Big Deal about Being Productive?

Whats-the-Big-Deal-about-Being-Productive
I’ve mentioned before how themes sometimes arise in weekly therapy sessions. Well, one recent theme is productivity. So many dysregulated eaters have this intense drive to be productive. I’m not sure if they tell me what they’ve accomplished because I’m their therapist or they’re in the habit of telling everyone. I thought of this need to be productive when I came home from a busy day doing errands and was struck between the difference I felt—simply glad to have the tasks behind me—and the way some of my clients seem to feel—as if they deserved a gold star on their forehead. I suspect they were trained to report in to others, likely their parents, about their productivity early on and continued the pattern without realizing they no longer need to do so (except perhaps with a boss). This desire to be productive for its own sake stems from parents modeling this...
Continue reading

Sore or Scar

Sore-or-Scar
What’s the difference between a scar and a sore? In my mind, a scar is something that once hurt but is no longer painful, while a sore is something that hurts right now. You view a scar as being about something that happened to you and recognize that it isn’t happening now. A sore is different: it’s an active wound that keeps hurting. It’s helpful to think about events in life as scars or sores in order to distinguish what’s active and really needs our attention and what’s a memory to ignore. Here’s an example. My client Lloyd was the oldest of six children and their unofficial caretaker, what we call the parentified child. Growing up, his mother was on disability due to a heart condition and his father worked two jobs to support the family. Good natured Lloyd tried to do all that was expected of him, but that was...
Continue reading

The Causes of Mindless Eating

The-Causes-of-Mindless-Eating
What prevents you from being a mindful eater? Mind you (pun intended), I’m not encouraging you to be a perfect eater but, rather, one who generally puts enough attention on what you’re eating to enjoy it and stay attuned to appetite signals. Here’s my take on what gets in your way: You’re mentally distracted by “all you have to do” and therefore don’t believe you have or deserve time to relish food and feed yourself in such a way that you know when you’ve had enough and are comfortable stopping. Your body may be sitting at the table—or more likely standing at the stove, plopped on the couch in front of the TV, or hunched over your computer—but your mind is miles away obsessed with all the things you feel you “should” be doing. Your focus is on everything but eating. People looking at you might see a person having dinner,...
Continue reading

It’s Time to Live for What You Fought for in Childhood

Its-Time-to-Live-for-What-You-Fought-for-in-Childhood
Every once in a while a client latches onto a phrase I’ve said because it speaks to them. This happened when I suggested that it’s time for my client Jill to “live for what you fought for.” What I meant was that she’d struggled through an abusive childhood only to live like she’s still stuck on the battlefield.  The truth is that many clients feel and act this way. The war is over, but they can’t seem to climb out of the trenches and delight in freedom, clear skies, and the calm of inner peace. Dr. Jon Connelly, founder of Rapid Resolution Therapy, describes it this way: It’s as if you’re walking forward but always looking over your shoulder. How can you move ahead without looking ahead? How can you leave memories of the past behind if you’re always glancing back at them? Jill, the client referenced above, is a great...
Continue reading

The Upside of Emotional Triggers

The-Upside-of-Emotional-Triggers
More and more these days I’m noticing a troubling trend in psychotherapy involving tiptoeing around certain subjects and side-stepping the use of certain words in fear of offending or upsetting clients or readers. This seems to stem from a well-meaning desire not to trigger an audience of one or many. In either case, our goal should not be to fear triggering them, but to bring sensitive subjects out into the open so that we can understand and deactivate them once and for all.  In 13 Strategies to Deal with Your Emotional Triggers, David Richo, Ph.D. defines a trigger as “any word, person, event, or experience that touches off an immediate emotional reaction.” Triggers vary in intensity and can lead to either comfortable or uncomfortable feelings—or both. Looking at photos of myself as a child at sleep-away camp, for example, stirs delight that I had such a wonderful time there as well...
Continue reading

Guest Blog: Healing a Negative Body Image by Mary Anne Cohen, LCSW

Guest-Blog-Healing-a-Negative-Body-Image-by-Mary-Anne-Cohen-LCSW
The actress Kate Upton once declared, “To me, what’s sexy is when you look like you’re having a good time.”  Many girls and women try to look like they feel sexy. They dress provocatively and carry themselves seductively. One girl wore pants to her therapy session with the word “juicy” scrolled in rhinestones on her backside, and another girl came to her session in four-inch stilettos.  But if you are happy in your body, you don’t need to turn it into a billboard advertising your wares. Authentic good body image comes from inner self-satisfaction.  Because the pain of body image dissatisfaction is emotional, we can improve our body image through psychological change. Making peace with body image distress and enhancing our self-acceptance involves a three-prong approach:  Awareness + Action = Acceptance  Awareness. Become aware of your unique triggers that make you feel bad about your appearance. Are there certain people, places, or situations that especially cause you unhappiness about...
Continue reading

Ain’t No Wagon to Fall Off Of

Aint-No-Wagon-to-Fall-Off-Of
I’m sure I’ve had conversations with clients about falling off the proverbial wagon before, but a recent one really got my dander up. Where does this analogy come from and how come we use it so much? Is it helpful to think of recovery with wagon analogies or might the concept actually be hurtful? Can you guess where I stand on the idea? The phrase came into usage around the end of the 19th century and referred to people who said they preferred to drink from a water wagon than imbibe alcohol. The analogy has been used freely in the field of addictions ever since though it’s actually a dangerous concept implying, as it does, the tight control one needs to remain on a moving wagon and the disaster it would be if one fell off one.  There is no wagon when it comes to recovering from an eating disorder because...
Continue reading

Weight, Vaccines and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Weight-Vaccines-and-the-COVID-19-Pandemic
I wonder if higher weight people are feeling more under siege than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t mean because of heightened stress, feeling home bound, or battling with increased emotional eating, although they are all factors to be considered. I mean feeling under siege due to the comments of others about higher weight people being at greater risk for becoming seriously ill with the virus. If you’ve been on the receiving end of such comments, don’t for a minute let people shame you. I’m not going to go into numbers about the relationship between COVID and weight because that is besides the point. The point is that blaming higher weight people for “letting themselves get the virus” (one way I heard it put) is simply more weight stigma coming at ya. It’s infuriating for me to hear such remarks when week after week I sit with clients who are...
Continue reading

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.karenrkoenig.com/

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.