Eating Disorder Treatment

by | Feb 3, 2020

When you have an eating disorder, it has this very alluring aspect to it. It makes false promises, tells you the grass is greener and works damn hard to keep you trapped in this cycle that always makes you feel like crap about yourself. The problem is that whilst there is some serious lack of appeal to eating disorders, they do a good job at turning people off treatment. Why, because it often tells people that all psychologists and dietitians want to do is make you fat. The arche nemesis of your eating disorder, right?

Whilst eating disorder treatment is challenging, what we often like to point out to people is that living with an eating disorder is no piece of cake either. It is exhausting, anxiety provoking, relentless, emotional and down right hard work. Not to mention isolative and lonely. But with a supportive and empathetic team behind you recovery is made a whole lot easier.

So what does treatment look like? When you see a psychologist at our practice one of the first things we will do is an assessment. This helps us to understand you more and to create a really clear clinical picture so that we are then able to discuss treatment options with you. As part of that assessment, we will likely ask you some questions about your eating disorder that it may not want you to tell us. That’s OK. We only want you to tell us what you’d like to, but remember the reason why you’re there, to get help. By visiting the clinic, you’ve kind of worked out that the eating disorder isn’t working for you so just hold onto that when it’s screaming at you not to divulge all it’s secrets.

One of the other things we will do is ask you to attend your GP regularly. The tricky part about having an eating disorder, is that it’s not just a psychiatric condition, it also has some serious medical consequences as well. We need to make sure that your bloods and your heart are doing OK, so we like for people to see the GP weekly at the start, and slowly stretching this out as some of your symptoms starts to subside. We are more than happy to chat with your GP and provide any resources or education necessary to make this process smooth for you.

We will also probably recommend to you or your parents that you see a dietitian at the practice. We are housed in the Sunshine Coast Centre for Eating and Body Concerns (SCCEBC) with our colleagues from Food Mind Body. They are a fantastic group of dietitians who we trust will be on exactly the same page as us and will provide some of the best care you will get on the Sunshine Coast. By working with a dietitian along with a psychologist, we are able to tackle it from both sides. Even though many of the evidence based treatments are performed mostly by a psychologist, we value the use of dietitians in our clients care and have seen the benefits of this.

If we are thinking that medication might play an important role or if you’re an adult and might require an admission, then we may recommend you see Dr Fionnuala Dunne our Consultant Psychiatrist that visits the practice once per week. We are so lucky to have Fionnuala who is a very passionate, empathetic and experienced clinician. Dr Dunne will also complete her own assessment to make sure we are covering all basis and that we are all on the same page. You will hear this phrase a million times because it’s so important for recovery.

As a team we meet on alternate Thursdays for a multidisciplinary team meeting so that we can discuss the clients that we share to ensure we are all talking the same talk and offering the very best treatment that we can.

One of the difficult things about eating disorder treatment is that it takes up lots of time. It requires multiple appointments with everyone every week which can be draining emotionally and physically. What I often remind people is that these disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, so we have to take it seriously and hit it with full force. If you had cancer would you refuse your treatment that the doctors were suggesting, probably not. So we have to think about treatment for an eating disorder in the same way.

With your psychologist, you will likely be asked to do some recording, work on homework or complete tasks in between sessions. These are really important as they will solidify all of the things you’ve talked about in your session. Remember that therapy is usually only one hour per week so there is still lots of time to dedicate to your recovery outside of this. In light of this, surround yourself with everything recovery orientated. Like our facebook and Instagram pages, refer to our resources page for extra things to look at, join helpful groups that will motivate you and keep an eye out for anything that you think could sabotage your recovery, like competitive eating disorders or other people with eating disorders who may not be at the same stage of recovery as you! This can really impact your motivation. 

Whilst there is quite a bit that goes into eating disorder treatment, this is going to provide you with your best chance at recovery. Depending on the research paper you read, the average length of an eating disorder is somewhere between 5-9 years, so if you dedicate yourself to treatment, our hope for you is that this time is significantly reduced and we see people in our clinic do it all the time. A wise client once said to me, ‘I’m not exactly having the most amazing time now, so what have I got to lose.’ Couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Recovery isn’t linear, you may be uncertain all the way through and that’s OK. Sometimes things will track really well and then other times you will have set backs and that’s OK. We are there for you, we will work with you, you can do it! We believe in you!