By: Kelly Wilson, BS, BA, DTR, Nutrition Tech
Here at Prosperity we provide a variety of services to our clients, including multiple types of therapy and nutrition interventions. The clients participate in group and individual sessions with their team of providers, but typically the most difficult work is done at the dining room tables. Exposure is a tool we use often in treating eating disorders due to its proven benefits in the client’s recovery journey (2018). The American Psychological Association defines exposure therapy as a psychological treatment developed by therapists to help people confront their fears and anxiety by breaking the pattern of fear and avoidance (2017). Types of nutrition-related exposures provided at prosperity include a weekly challenge snack, inning meals from restaurants and more. We also include the occasional special exposure like what we did for our Holiday challenge meal this year.
This holiday season we organized a tea party themed meal for our clients. We served an array of finger foods that were placed on serving platters on the table along with a sparkling cider and sherbert drink. The clients were encouraged to grab food from the middle of the table to build their own meal in the moment with the support of our staff. This type of “party appetizer” or “finger food” meal building can be triggering for our clients which is why we arranged to do this exposure in a controlled and supportive environment. Exposing clients to this experience allowed them to practice self-portioning at the table and encouraged them to break the pattern of avoidance (Yetman & Saripalli, 2021). In PHP at Prosperity clients participate in a weekly “build your own” lunch where they plate and portion their own meals. For example, in the past we have had clients build their own taco bowls, salads, loaded baked potatoes and more. What made this tea party themed meal different was having the clients serve themselves at the dining table as opposed to a “buffet style” set up where they build their plates one at a time with the assistance of nutrition staff. All the food-related exposures that we do at Prosperity have the same goal; to create realistic beliefs about the fears that clients have around certain foods and situations while making sure that they feel safe and supported.
At Prosperity any chance to do something special for our clients is exciting to us. We strive to provide an environment for clients to work on recovery but also enjoy coming into everyday. While eating disorder treatment can be challenging we hope that our expert staff and compassionate treatment will guide clients on their journey to full recovery.
American Psychological Association. (2017, January). What is exposure therapy? American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy
Yetman, D. (2021, June 21). Exposure therapy: Types, how it’s done, and more. Healthline. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/exposure-therapy
What to expect from treatment. National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, August 3). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-expect-treatment
Virginia’s Premier Day Treatment And Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers
Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center specializes in the treatment of eating disorders while offering evidence-based, comprehensive, ethical, and individualized treatment to all ages, ethnicities, genders, and eating disorders. Our goal is to help sufferers find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs. We specialize in treating Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, Orthorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder. With locations in Herndon and Norfolk, Prosperity is equipped to serve the needs of adolescents and adults throughout Virginia.
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