Therapy for Anorexia and Bulimia – Therapists and Counselors in Austin
Her friends have noticed that Cindy always insists on going straight home after a shared meal. On the rare occasion she doesn’t, she usually disappears into the restroom at the restaurant for a somewhat extended period of time. She’s also very thin. It took a few months, but her friends have finally realized Cindy has anorexia.
Eating disorders are serious illnesses that can manifest at any stage of life and in either gender, though we most commonly associate them with teenage girls. Eating disorders occur because of concerns over weight and appearance, but also as a way to express control over lives that may otherwise seem out of control. This can particularly be the case after a trauma. Counseling for anorexia and bulimia is available at Thriveworks Austin. We’ll work with you to establish a plan for creating a healthier relationship with food—and yourself.
Anorexia and Bulimia Counseling
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two most common eating disorders. They can each be life threatening (The Mayo Clinic).
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a distortion of body image that results in using extreme measures to control weight, including limiting calories, using diet aids, or vomiting after eating. These measures typically interfere with both the sufferer’s health and their participation in normal life activities. Physically, those suffering from anorexia are often underweight.
On the other hand, those suffering from bulimia typically have episodes of binging that result in feeling a lack of control over eating. Following the binge, the person experiences negative feelings about their lack of control and purges the food—and then may go through a period of restriction. Physically, those with bulimia are usually at a normal weight or a bit overweight.
The Feelings Behind Eating Disorders
Though eating disorders do develop exclusively over concern about one’s appearance, they also develop alongside or after a trauma in many cases. Trauma, particularly sexual trauma, often leaves the victim feeling out of control, and exercising control over food and one’s own body offers a way to restore some sense of control. After all, even adults have plenty of items to tick of their to-do list every day. From getting gas to drive to work, to picking up kids on the way home, many of the things we do each day are not really optional. Eating isn’t truly optional either, but the way in which we go about it—what, when, and how much to eat—is under our control. That control can be tempting to cling to if life otherwise feels chaotic, for whatever reason.
How Are Eating Disorders Treated?
By making an appointment with us, you’ve already taken the first step. At Thriveworks Austin, we’re trained to treat persons dealing with each type of eating disorder, and we’re invested in helping you heal. Seeking counseling for anorexia and bulimia, especially if you’ve never had counseling, may seem a little scary at first, but once you make the appointment and begin addressing your concerns, the relief will be worth it. Our friendly, trained therapists will put you at ease as you begin your journey to wellness.
At Thriveworks Austin, we see patients with eating disorders individually. Since bulimia and anorexia are such serious illnesses, we will likely discuss with you whether or not you’re seeing a physician. Seeing a physician to get a checkup can be a life-saving part of eating-disorder therapy, particularly if the patient is significantly underweight or has other issues caused by, for example, excessive vomiting.
Much of therapy involved in treating eating disorders revolves around learning to recognize and change unhealthy thought patterns or beliefs (The National Institute of Mental Health). If trauma is present along with the eating disorder, we will work with you to process that trauma, and along with it, help you learn to change your thoughts and beliefs surrounding food and eating.
Signs of an Eating Disorder—For Friends and Family
The signs of an eating disorder are often overlooked, but are fairly easy to spot. Signs include (The Mayo Clinic):
- Skipping meals
- Excessive focus on healthy eating
- Withdrawing from normal social activities
- Persistent concern over weight
- Frequently checking appearance in the mirror
- Expressing negative feelings about eating habits
- The person’s weight seems to be dropping rapidly
Though of course no one wants their friend or family member to go through such a difficult experience, it can be tough to know what to do once an eating disorder is suspected. Approaching someone with a suspected eating disorder is a very sensitive matter, one that deserves to be treated carefully and with purposeful knowledge.
A group of friends and/or family may decide to hold an intervention. During an intervention, a small group of the concerned come together and confront the person with the eating disorder. It’s important that the group has rehearsed what they will say ahead of time, uses nonblaming “I” statements such as “I’m concerned about your health…” or “I care about your health and happiness…,” and has examples ready to give the person about times they have observed him or her engaging in the unhealthy behavior.
Finally, it’s very important those holding the intervention have treatment plans already available for the friend or relative to consider.
Thriveworks Austin Anorexia and Bulimia Counseling
Our trained counselors at Thriveworks Austin frequently see people suffering from eating disorders. We’ve helped many patients recover and we’re ready to help you. Eating disorders are life-threateningly serious, so if you have or suspect you have one, call us today. We can usually get you an appointment within 24 hours, so there’s no need to wait any longer for help.