Recovering from an eating disorder is a process that can take time; therefore it is important to be patient with yourself. You may feel quite confused about your eating disorder: It might give you a sense of safety and control when things get difficult, but you might also be aware that what you are doing is dangerous for your health and not what you really want in life.
We will help you identify what important function your eating disorder is serving for you, but also how it is impacting on your life. As a result this can lead you to feel very ambivalent about your recovery, i.e. you want to stop but at the same time you don’t want to, which can affect your motivation to change. This is a normal part of the recovery process.
The Kildare Street Clinic Eating Disorder Service offers treatment based on a Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach. Motivational Interviewing aims to develop and maintain motivation to change; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy addresses the underlying negative beliefs which contribute to your eating disorder and helps to identify healthier coping strategies. We work using a collaborative approach based on respect rather than confrontation. The aim is to help clients work out how to make and maintain changes.
When we try to change a habit or unhealthy behaviour we go through different stages. To be able to change you have to recognise that there is a problem first. We help people to figure out what stage of change they are at, i. e. what their motivation to change is.
We will begin with an initial assessment to gauge your suitability and motivation. During this assessment we will discuss your expectations of therapy and collaboratively develop an appropriate individual care plan for you. The assessment will last about 60 minutes and places a strong emphasis on increasing your motivation to change.
The initial goal of treatment is to normalise your eating patterns and develop coping strategies to control the bingeing/compensatory behaviours. We help you establish what problems the eating disorder causes in your life. You will identify how important these problems are to you and how much confidence you have to do something about them. As soon as your eating habits are normalised, the next stage is to work on both your negative self-image and weight related self-evaluation while establishing what function your eating disorder serves for you, e. g. escapism, stress release, avoidance of painful emotions.
The last stage of recovery is to build your self-esteem and to deal with any underlying issues that may have played a role in the development of your eating disorder. As part of your therapy we will be looking at your symptoms and problems, how your beliefs and assumptions support them, and how they are activated.
It is important to acknowledge that relapse can happen at any stage and is likely to happen on the way to reaching maintenance. This can be hard to accept in your struggle to make positive changes, and relapse often feels like failure. In actual fact, relapse is part of the change process, and it is important to see relapse as an opportunity to learn and become stronger. We will help you identify how you got to the point of engaging in old behaviours, and identify what barriers exist that might prevent you from maintaining your changes. We will help you find new motivators and identify and implement new coping strategies. You might relapse again and again, but you will eventually get to the maintenance stage if you persist.
As you can see this is quite an undertaking, yet it highlights the seriousness of this condition. It is important to remember that small achievable goals can lead to major life changes.