I have seen so many of my own patients with Eating Disorders (ED) struggle with how to move beyond the Stage of Change in recovery : “I know I have a problem but not willing to do anything about it ” and get to the Stage of Change: ” I know I have a problem and I am willing to do everything I can to get better”.
With my patients who tell me that they can’t get better, they won’t get better or they don’t even really have a problem, I have noticed a few things.
- They refer to their Eating Disorder as a PART of them. In a way that seems like they are saying ” I am a girl” or “I am an American”. This belief is so strong and ingrained.
- They feel they can not survive life without their Eating Disorder. They believe that if they choose to start recovery they will lose their voice, their protection, their identity and their purpose in life.
- They believe that if they do not have their ED they will no longer be successful, fulfilled, special and worthwhile.
So to be able to get to the next stage in recovery, they must believe:
- That they are capable of anything they put their mind to. Someone with an eating disorder is very determined, capable and full of worth.
- Their ED has begun out of some form of unmet need. They need to learn to be able to fulfill their wants and needs out of assertiveness, determination, perseverance and creativity.
- They are capable of change. They are not made of stone, but of soft clay that they can continue to mold, sculpt and make into their best selves.
As a therapist, my role is to never give up on finding a way to communicate these truths, to motivate them to take risks and to take one baby step at a time.
I think of the little engine who despite it’s limitations, never gave up, believe it itself and always had someone cheering him on.
Heather Baker, LCSW