Core Issues in Eating Disorders

Core Issues in Eating Disorders

What are some core issues in eating disorders? Are there themes that almost always show up in eating disorder recovery? Why is art therapy so effective to explore these core issues in eating disorders? My name is Abby Hansen and I am an EDIT™ Counselor Intern at Positive Pathways. I am currently finishing up my Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Transpersonal Art Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. I have been working with folks struggling with eating disorders at various levels of care for the past six years. Over time I have picked up on a few themes or core issues in eating disorders treatment that almost always show up. I’d like to share why I believe art therapy can be such a beautiful part of eating disorder recovery, where healing of these core issues in eating disorders can unfold.  1. Identity – “I am sick, and if I am not sick, who am I?” The eating disorder often began as a very useful coping mechanism utilized to help during a difficult situation in life. Over time, the eating disorder becomes less effective as a way to cope, and winds up holding one back from who they really are. Art is innately unconscious – every mark we make on a page is the visual language of our soul. When we take the time to slow down and pay attention to our imagery we realize we have never left ourselves. I believe the more time we spend with our artwork the more time we spend with ourselves. 2. Perfectionism – “If I can’t do this perfectly, I am a failure.”...
Anorexia Blog Recovery Tip #1

Anorexia Blog Recovery Tip #1

RECOVERY TIP:  It’s often said that Anorexia is a “control issue” – an attempt to control food intake as a means of coping with life situations which feel out of control. See if you can shift your “need for control” to taking control of your recovery today – choose one small step to change one of your Anorexic behaviors. Although Anorexia Nervosa is a complex issue which has many contributing factors, one of the main causes for the development of Anorexic behaviors is as a coping mechanism for traumatic events or challenging life issues. When the events of life feel out of one’s control, the attempts to control eating, exercise and weight can bring great relief initially. However, as these behaviors are used more intensively and frequently, the negative consequences of  Anorexia Nervosa begin to take their toll. What may have given a sense of being in control has now spiraled out of control – and the medical risks of Anorexia are very serious, including malnutrition, heart attacks, cognitive malfunctions due to loss of brain tissue, and sudden death. If you or someone you know is dealing with Anorexia, it’s important to get the right help right away. Hospitalization or inpatient treatment may be necessary for medical stabilization. Outpatient treatment is an option for cases of Anorexia which are less severe, or as aftercare for residential treatment. One of the keys of recovery from Anorexia is to shift the control of Anorexic behaviors to the control of recovery. Sometimes it can feel like therapists, dietitians and doctors are trying to control you, which can trigger a need for control through your Anorexic behaviors. See if you can...