People who suffer with eating disorders are frequently suffering from some sort of poor self image that is, from their point of view, managed through the way that food is consumed.
Eating disorders may also be a surrogate for taking control where the sufferer percieves having a lack of control over other aspects of their lives.
A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health and wellbeing.
Because the sufferer often has a badly distorted sense of self they tend to attribute this distortion to the food that they eat, or use food as an internal way of expressing this “problem”, so they either believe that they eat too much (and might believe that they are “fat” or “greedy”) or they may feel somehow compelled to “binge” and the perhaps “purge”.
There are many more “variants” within the eating disorder spectrum.
More recently there has been much press about the degree of obesity in our modern societies and the latest figures suggest that obesity now affects MORE than 50% of the population of the UK.
What are the different forms of eating disorders?
Eating disorders come in several different “forms” and can have various different affects including psychological, physical, emotional and social issues.
Is an eating disorder characterised by attempts to control weight by “stuffing” or “bingeing” on food followed by a second phase of “purging”, deliberately making oneself sick in order to counteract the overeating.
A very common feature is that this binge-purge cycle is usually kept very secret and sufferers feel very guilty about what they do.
Is a condition where people continue to eat food even when feeling full.
Most compulsive eaters are very overweight and use food as a way to alleviate or relieve “emotional” problems such as depression, stress or anxiety.
The principle characteristic of this serious problem is that the sufferer continues to believe that they are “fat” or “overweight” even when they are terribly underweight.
This “cognitive distortion” leads to behaviour where only tiny amounts of food are eaten with the body suffering very obvious malnutrition.
What causes eating disorders?
In the current climate there is a lot of blame being levelled at the media, particularly “glamour” magazines and “lifestyle” publications that are said to project totally unrealistic images of “thin” and “beautiful” people that young people aspire to be.
This pressure to “fit-in” is said to create enormous pressure on young minds leading to unrealistic expectations of what one must look like to be “accepted.”
Whilst elements of this view may be true, there are usually more complex psychological issues involved.
A number of these psychological issues that can contribute to the development of eating disorders include:
- A family history of eating disorders
- Being exposed to harsh criticism about weight or shape
- Working in an environment in which there is pressure to be “slim”
- Personality traits that might make you more susceptible to eating disorders
- A history of Depression
- Sexual or Emotional Trauma
- Abusive relationships
- High levels of stress at work, home or School
Are eating disorders common?
Bulimia is around five times more prevalent than Anorexia and almost exclusively affects females (although we have helped a number of men here at the clinic).
Bulimia tends to present itself around the ages of 17-19 years of age.
Compulsive Eating affects men and women in equal proportions and tends to become a problem later on in life with most of our clients presenting in the early to mid thirties
Although Anorexia tends to make for very traumatic headlines, it is less common than people may think with estimated figures showing less than 0.5% of women will suffer and ten times less men (0.05%).
Anorexia tends to present around 15-18 years of age.
Psychological Therapy for Eating Disorders
Eating disorders, when left untreated, have the ability to seriously impact on a person’s life.
In the most extreme cases an eating disorder can be fatal. Fortunately this is quite rare but people of a certain ‘vintage’ will remember the tragic story of Karen Carpenter, the american singer, who developed anorexia nervosa and eventually dies of her condition.
If your health has already been seriously affected by an eating disorder it is important that you speak with your GP before deciding to embark on any kind of therapy or counselling.
Because most eating disorders are connected with deeper psychological problems that are often kept secret or buried away in the mind, treatment and recovery can often be a protracted experience.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders
If you’re committed to overcoming your eating disorder then we highly recommend following our Tranceformental CBT 10 session programme.
The Tranceformental programme is a highly successful & pragmatic mental health counselling course, run over 10 sessions, that will teach you everything you need to know to understand your problem, identify how unhelpful thinking and limiting beliefs might be reinforcing the issue, and then show you how to make any changes to your unhelpful thinking styles or maladaptive safety behaviours that you may have developed as part of your coping strategies.
The programme is also available as an online self-help CBT programme.
Our Tranceformental CBT programme is an evidence-based, research supported approach used by mental health practitioners around the World.
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Alternative Therapies for Eating Disorders
Although our preferred form of mental health counselling for eating disorders is Tranceformental CBT we also offer alternative psychotherapies for those who might prefer a different approach.
General Counselling which is less structured but still provides a safe and non-judgmental environment to discuss issues which is therapeutic in its own right.
Free Initial Consultations for Eating Disorders
We offer all prospective clients a FREE initial consultation to discuss your food-related issues prior to commencing any treatment plans.
The consultation is free and lasts around 50 minutes.
During this consultation we will discuss the various therapy options that are available to you and make a considered recommendation based on your individual personal circumstances.
Initial consultations are also available as part of our online therapy service.
At Tranceform Psychology we recognise the importance of the therapeutic relationship in helping people to bring about effective change, so its important to be able to ‘meet’ to discuss any therapy treatments BEFORE proceeding.
Our policy is to help people make a fully balanced & considered decision about undertaking work with us, including both the financial and personal implications.
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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is clinically proven to be effective for a range of mental health problems and can be carried out in the comfort of your own home.
Structured over TEN, in-depth modules, our advanced CBT course will teach you everything you need to know to change the way you think about and experience your problems without having to spend a fortune.
The course is available with 2, 5 or 10 sessions of clinical support in-clinic or using Zoom.
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Also available as a self-directed course that you manage yourself without interacting with a therapist for only £149.