Eating Disorder Therapy: A New Perspective Utilising EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) and Mindfulness
You’ve probably experienced the pressure of feeling the need to be a certain size. Perhaps your girlfriend or boyfriend made a passing comment about how your body looks. Or maybe you’ve seen models on TV and the way they seem to command people’s attention. It’s also possible you’re using eating as a passive-aggressive way to get back at your parents. At times, you just can’t help getting bigger or smaller, eating has become your way of dealing with unpleasant emotions.
Weight management is not a bad thing. In fact, weight management is healthy; however being underweight and overweight has been linked with serious illnesses and emotional stress. Like most things, weight management must be done properly – and must always be within your control. When the process of getting thinner or fatter has become an obsession and a compulsion that leads you to ignore red flags, perhaps what you already have is an eating disorder.
Do you have an eating disorder?
There are many forms of eating disorders. The National Institute for Mental Health has listed three of its most common types.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN).
This eating disorder is characterised by an obsession with thinness and compulsive attempts to lose weight. This is despite the fact that one’s body may already be way below the recommended body-mass index. The pursuit of weight loss among people with AN is based on an unrealistic perception of one’s body.
Bulimia Nervosa (BN).
This eating disorder is characterised by cycles of binging and purging. After consuming massive amounts of food, persons with BN induce vomiting, take laxatives or go through gruelling workouts to cancel out potential weight gain.
Binge Eating Disorder (BEN).
A person with BEN consumes large amounts of food and drink, usually for emotional reasons. Persons with BEN eventually become morbidly obese, which in turn causes dysfunction in different areas of life.
All of these eating disorders can lead to serious health complications, and has even been known to cause death. Anxiety disorders, clinical depression and addictions typically accompany eating disorders.
Breakthrough Models of Dealing with Eating Disorders
Therapy for eating disorders demands specific orientations as it’s a specialised field. Traditional therapeutic interventions like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and group therapies are always helpful, but therapy has developed greatly in the last few decades, offering new perspectives and treatment. Three perspectives gaining ground, all of which are offered by P-Therapy, are Emotional Freedom Technique, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Mindfulness.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
EFT is a healthy marriage of many different schools of thought, but possibly its key characteristic is that it is a non-invasive, drug-free technique aimed at removing energy blocks in the body. As such, it’s a holistic treatment that doens’t just address your eating disorder but allows you to improve your over-all well-being. EFT has been proven by clinical research to be effective for many presenting problems including PTSD, depression, phobias and relationship issues among many other things.
EFT typically starts by identifying the intensity of emotional reactions to a particular trigger. In the case of eating disorders, EFT would allow you to hone in on your cravings, the psychological underpinnings of your eating disorder (e.g. low self-esteem), and even the consequences of your behaviour. Once focus on these blocks has been established, a counsellor would mentor you on how to tap points of what are called energy meridians in your body. Affirmations geared towards self-acceptance will help the body reverse its flawed conditioning with the tapping making you receptive to the suggestions. The power of your word choices vis-à-vis the openness of your person to the process is what makes the therapy effective.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Like EFT, DBT is a mix of the East and the West. Because it strives to take the best of both worlds, DBT allows clients an objective review of their everyday behaviors (typical of Cognitive Behavioural interventions) while at the same time improving skills in emotional management, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and mindfulness (typical of Buddhist traditions). Like EFT, DBT is non-invasive and drug-free.
Consider Lisa, a 17-year old student suffering from Bulimia. Lisa had gone through 3 practitioners for treatment. All of these specialists fail to achieve long-lasting results, most likely because Lisa felt no connection with her therapist. DBT worked for her because the first thing the DBT therapist focused on is emphasising that recovery is a partnership.
The DBT therapist encouraged Lisa to go through all of her activities each week. Working with her, the therapist assisted Lisa in identifying her most urgent and problematic behavior. During her first week, this behaviour was buying strong purgatives and so-called carb-burners from unlicensed sellers online, despite warnings that these products can be deadly. Instead of judgment, Lisa was assisted in coming to understand how her behaviour is actually sensible albeit maladaptive. The therapist taught Lisa to accept her self, manage her emotions, and change these dysfunctional behaviours.
Mindfulness is a buzzword these days, but few understand what it actually is.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is the ability to become and remain totally aware of all the things going on inside and outside you. Mindfulness teaches the mind to focus on the present moment, to release internal chatter and therefore learn to manage one’s thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness also allows a person to temporarily step back and view one’s self from a third person perspective.
Mindfulness has long been used as treatment for eating disorders but often wasn’t given this name. Complete focus while eating, for example, would allow a person to fully appreciate the sensations of eating, which in turn makes it a satisfying experience – a sharp contrast from the rushed compulsion of disorder. Mindfulness training also helps in releasing emotions that trigger overeating and its compensatory behaviours. More importantly, mindfulness helps a person regain awareness of the non-eating aspects of life, which helps let go of the obsession with food.
If you’re interested in EFT, DBT, and Mindfulness contact P-Therapy through [email protected] The initial consultation is free.