Eating disorders are horrendous things. They normally start as a way of helping you to cope with something else that is going on, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, or coping with trauma, but they can quickly spiral into something that is dominating every minute of your life.
Recovering from an eating disorder is never as simple as just eating more or less. We have to resolve the underlying problems that originally led to you using food as a coping strategy. I work in a holistic way which means that during counselling sessions, we won't just be focusing on food and eating. I want to help you to resolve anything that is causing you distress because by doing that, you stand a much better chance of being in recovery from your eating disorder.
One thing that is important to remember is that eating disorders serve a purpose. There is some benefit that the eating disorder is providing you with. Because of this, it is entirely normal for you to be unsure if you want to change your relationship with food. You may experience this as a bit of a tug-o'-war in your mind. One part of you is saying "yes, change!" the other is saying "no, I want to continue as I am!" I want to reassure you that I both expect this, and will support you in making the decision that is right for you. I will never try to force you into changing your relationship with food before you are ready.
This is a list of eating disorders that I currently work with:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)
Please remember that you do not need to have a diagnosis to work with me - most of my clients do not have a formal diagnosis from a doctor. Nor do you have to be significantly underweight or overweight. Being over or underweight can be an indication that you have an eating disorder, but I am less interested in weight than what is happening for you psychologically and emotionally. My primary aim is to help you feel happier about yourself and to have a happier life.
All of my clients have a different counselling experience with me because all of my clients are unique individuals in unique situations. I work closely with clients to work in a way that suits them and addresses the issues that they want to address in a way and order which make success more likely.
This applies to you, too. Together, we will develop a plan for your counselling so that we both know what we're working on and how we're working on it.
Even though that counselling is different for all of my clients, there are a general series of stages that we go through. These are:
Stage 1: Assessment Eating disorders are complex. The assessment stage helps us to understand exactly what is going on for you. We use this information to help us develop a plan for the best way to help you.
Stage 2: Coping Strategies Depending on your eating disorder, we may need to look at coping strategies to help stabilise your food intake. What this means in practice is that if you restrict food, we look at how you can feel more comfortable when eating; if you binge, we look at how to control and reduce binges; and if you make yourself sick or compensate for eating in other ways, we will explore ways of reducing these episodes.
Stage 3: Underlying Problems Once the coping strategies are in place, we can start sorting out the underlying stuff. This could mean that we're reducing anxiety, helping you to feel more confident, reducing perfectionism, overcoming something that happened when you were younger, or improving your relationship with your body.
Stage 4: Relationship with Food I've listed this as stage 4, but in reality, we'll be talking about it on and off throughout your counselling. What is up to you is when we start working on changing your relationship with food. This is different for everyone. You might want to start working on it early on, it may be later on, or somewhere in the middle. There really is no right answer! What I can promise is that it is your choice about when you want to start working on this.
Stage 5: Relapse prevention Mental health is just like physical health, we have to keep working at it to stay in good shape. Throughout counselling, you'll learn which tools and techniques are useful for you. When you're feeling that you're in a good place and are getting ready to stop counselling, we'll discuss ways that you can continue making progress on your own and with the support of the people around you.
How to get started
Asking for help is never easy. It can become even harder when you're going to be focusing on something as personal and secretive as an eating disorder. I promise that I will make your experience of counselling as easy, supportive and comfortable as possible. So far, no one has left because I'm scary!
The first step is for you to contact me.
We'll have a (very) brief conversation about what you're looking for and, if you want too, we can book an initial consultation.
The initial consultation is a free appointment that lasts up to an hour. We start by discussing confidentiality and data protection (GDPR). I'll take a few basic admin details and then we will have a conversation about what's going on for you, what you'd like to achieve and you can ask any questions that you have.
It is so important that you feel comfortable with the counsellor that you choose to work with. At the end of the initial consultation, I'll ask you if you're ready to book a session or not. It's normal to want to go away and think about it. This is a HUGE decision! If you'd like time to think about it or talk to someone else then I promise that is perfectly okay. You may be ready to make a decision at the end of the consultation, in which case we can book your first session if that is what you would like to do.
Do you have any questions? You can check out my FAQs here or I'm perfectly happy for you to contact me and ask any questions directly.