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Eating Disorders and Adolescents.

I have worked for many years as a specialist with people suffering from eating disorders both in the N.H.S. and in private practice.  I have also worked for 10 years in the Adolescent Department and the Eating Disorders Unit of the Priory Hospital, Roehampton.  I have worked with disturbed adolescents in a variety of settings, education, social services and psychiatry for 35 years.  Over the years I have developed some new methods for working in these specialist areas. My published writings about these methods are referenced on this web-site in the section/page on related links and publications.

Eating Disorders

Who can benefit?
I offer therapy to those suffering from anorexia, bulimia and/or non-specific eating disorders. I also work with the parent(s) of people suffering from an eating disorder.

Hope and the way forward
This is a specialist area and anyone suffering from an eating disorder should seek specialist help.  Psychotherapists nowadays have a great deal of understanding of eating disorders and therefore the sufferer can feel hopeful.  Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is just one method that may be helpful.  Often it is best employed in conjunction with advice from a nutritionist/dietician and therapeutic input from a behavioural/cognitive therapist (CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or DBT Dialectical Behaviour Therapy). This can be discussed at the initial assessment,

Assessment
Sufferers can be helped but they have to be ready to engage in the difficult but rewarding process of therapy.  The sufferer is nearly always extremely reluctant to engage in psychotherapy because it will mean giving up the illness which in some powerful way is helping her or him to feel safe.  This safety is an illusion and is causing more problems than it solves.  Talking to a psychotherapist who understands the fear of change can make a huge difference and lead to as very effective therapy.

If the sufferer is in their teens it is often a good idea for a parent or another member of the family to come along with you to the first session.  If you are over 18 this is up to you but worth thinking about as another person who cares about you can shed more light on your problem and help a great deal in the process of therapy.

Therapy for an eating disorder
Therapy for an eating disorder is usually on an individual basis. The therapy session may be once or twice weekly and involves a regular commitment.  Each session may last 50 minutes or an hour.  You will be helped to understand any underlying emotional and relationship problems and also gradually to stop compulsive behaviours and thinking around food and eating.  Part of the therapy is educational so that you can come to understand the unhelpful function of the illness.  The supportive and affirming relationship with the therapist is the key therapeutic factor.  Some contact with your GP is always required.

Adolescents


Disturbed adolescents often feel very alone, like an outsider.  This experience can be made worse by the impact of social media.  Parents are often at a loss about what to do to help them and find it hard to differentiate between “normal adolescent behaviour” and more disturbed symptoms of pain and suffering.  The parents need help too, very often, in managing their own feelings while helping their children through this challenging phase of life.  All this is taken into account when starting therapy with an adolescent. Sometimes separate therapy is made available for the parent(s).   Communication with parents around the child’s therapy may be minimal but remains important.