DBT Group Denver: Eating Disorder Recovery

DBT Group Denver: Eating Disorder Recovery

DBT Group Denver – February 8 thru March 29, 6-7:30pm Do you want to change your relationship with food? Have you made some New Year’s resolutions and are hoping is that in 2017 you can find solutions to create a freedom point with food, eating and body image? DBT can help you! Have you heard of DBT? Perhaps you’ve heard this term in the therapy world or have read about it online. Maybe you’re curious how DBT can help you. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of tangible evidence-based treatment that can help with a variety of issues. I especially find it helpful for people with eating disorders or disordered eating. In my experience as a therapist, I have used DBT for seven years and have found it to work wonders with people who have binge eating disorder, food addiction, restrict food, or have anorexia or bulimia. DBT can help you change your life and have the relationship with food that you have been searching for. There are four main components to DBT. They include Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. In the DBT Group Denver (starting February 8), we will encompass all four principles and apply them to your relationship with food, as well as what’s underneath your struggle. Below I will give a brief example of how each of the four DBT principles can apply to you. In the DBT Group Denver, we’ll use distress tolerance to find new and healthy ways to cope with stress and other of life’s challenges instead of either overeating or under-eating. Stop beating yourself up for engaging in disordered eating and find new ways...
Eating Disorders and Stress: DBT Coping Skills for the Holidays

Eating Disorders and Stress: DBT Coping Skills for the Holidays

Eating disorders and stress tend to “feed each other.” Let’s be honest about that. This is often a triggering and stressful time of year; the holidays are rapidly approaching, the change in seasons can be tough, and it’s getting dark earlier. This particular year may be even more stressful due to the recent election, no matter what your political affiliation may be. It is very important that we pay attention to stress and try to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming. DBT can help you! DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The word “dialectical” is defined as, “concerned with or acting through opposing forces.” This can mean that there are often two truths, or more than one truth in any given situation. If you live in Colorado you may have noticed that in mid- November the temperature was in the 70s! The holiday season can often bring on a dialectical feel: on one hand it is a time of togetherness and celebration, on the other hand it can feel isolating or lonely. There are mixed messages around food and holiday eating, too. We are surrounded with sweets and other decadent foods, yet our culture expects us to “be healthy.” This all adds to eating disorders and stress. Using the Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness modules of DBT can be very effective for combatting eating disorders and stress. If you need immediate relief and want to improve a moment follow these steps. Think of the acronym IMPROVE to help guide you. I: Use IMAGERY. You can do this by imagining a relaxing scene – either a place you have been, or create a beautiful scene in your...
Eating Disorders and Valentine’s Day Sadness

Eating Disorders and Valentine’s Day Sadness

February 14th is St. Valentine’s Day – which has been celebrated as a day of romance for many years. Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making this the second most popular card-sending day after Christmas (Source: History.com). And then there are all the flowers, jewelry and other gifts – and of course, chocolates in a heart-shaped box. If you are currently in a relationship with a “significant other,” then this time of year may be very special to you. However, if you have recently gone through a breakup – or, if you have been single for a while – then you might think of St. Valentine’s Day as “St. Sadness Day.” If your eating disorder (ED) seems like the only relationship you have, and you’re tempted to binge on those chocolates (or engage in other ED behaviors) – consider these strategies instead: Name Your Feelings: You may notice a sense of discomfort, or an awareness of low energy levels – see if you can get more specific, and identify the actual feelings you are experiencing. Sadness? Loneliness? Grief? Depression? Explore WHY You Have These Feelings: Perhaps you feel sad because you know that no one is going to buy you a romantic card or give you flowers. You might feel lonely, because you realize that you don’t have anyone to spend this “special day” with. Maybe you are thinking about previous years, when you were in a relationship – and you are grieving the loss of this relationship. You might even feel depressed, because you wonder if you will ever find that “special someone” to share your life with. Although these...
Eating Disorders and Trauma: What Is Trauma?

Eating Disorders and Trauma: What Is Trauma?

How do we define trauma? If you look up the word “trauma” various definitions populate. The underlying theme amongst the trauma definitions involves an unpleasant experience that leaves a person with an injury. The injury can be physical, emotional or even mental. So then, how do we define trauma in a counseling setting? When I first meet with a client we go over quite a few questions to help me better understand their want for professional help. As we get to questions about trauma, some clients initially respond they have not experienced trauma in their lives. As our discussion continues, I help clients identify what mental health providers refer to as BIG T’S (Big Traumas) and little t’s (little traumas). It is estimated that “Approximately one half (50%) of all individuals will be exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime” (American Psychological Association, 2016). While 50% of folks may experience trauma, responses to such trauma differ from person to person. One person may be able to continue through life with little to no help with the trauma while others could have lifelong difficulties. Big T’s can differ in the level of severity along with the healing time involved in resolving such trauma. There are some cases in which these traumas impact an individual for the duration of their life. Examples can include witnessing a horrific crime, experiencing war, surviving abuse (emotional, physical, sexual) or neglect, exposure to violence and being involved in a car accident. Little t’s can be very impactful and are not necessarily less significant but different in nature from big traumas. Examples can...
Eating Disorders Help for the Holidays

Eating Disorders Help for the Holidays

‘Tis the season – for family gatherings, Holiday parties… and lots of food. It can be enough of a challenge to stay on course with your eating disorder recovery in your day-to-day life. It’s even more challenging when you’re triggered by your Aunt Mary’s comments about your weight, or your Grandmother’s pumpkin pie. Here are a few strategies for eating disorders help for the holidays: Know Your Triggers – Identify the people, places and events that are the most challenging for you to deal with. By acknowledging that your Aunt Mary always makes a comment about your weight, you can actually be less triggered when she makes a comment this year. She might say, “You look so good – how much weight have you lost?” Or, “What happened – you gained so much weight since the last time I saw you!” Knowing that she will make some kind of comment, you can be prepared and therefore less triggered. Similarly, knowing that you are going to a family function where you will encounter foods which can trigger your eating disorder behaviors, you can diffuse the power of the trigger simply by being aware of it. You know that your Grandmother will bring pumpkin pie – and you also know that she will push you to have a piece. You also know that she’ll give you a “sad look” if you decline to have a piece, and she’ll push you to have seconds if you agree to have one. Have a Plan to Deal with Your Triggers – After you have identified some of the main triggers you might encounter, come up with specific action steps for each. When...
DBT Skills for Eating Disorders

DBT Skills for Eating Disorders

DBT Skills for Eating Disorders: Distress Tolerance If you struggle with eating disorders, then you can likely relate to the concept of “distress.” But have you heard of “distress tolerance” – and wondered what this actually means? Is it simply a way to tolerate stressful situations or events? Maybe it describes tools for coping with tough relationships? The answer includes all of the above. At some point in life, everyone goes through painful circumstances – including physical pain such as illness or injury, or emotional pain such as anxiety or depression. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focuses heavily on teaching people to be able to cope with painful stressors in life in appropriate and healthy ways. There are several unhealthy ways to cope with stress which include various addictions such as eating disorders, drugs and/or alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex/love, or self -harm. DBT teaches that there are many other ways to deal with pain in a way that will promote healing and growth. There is a very basic formula for handling stress and pain: DISTRACT, RELAX, COPE. When you feel stress coming on or find yourself in a tough situation, you can follow this simple formula and move through the hardship quicker than if you ignore it or try to cope in an unhealthy manner, as listed above. DISTRACT: The first step is to find ways in which to distract yourself so that you are not engulfed in difficult feelings. There are many things you can do! Find a pleasurable activity, such as: watching a movie, taking a walk, reading, calling a friend, going for a drive, exercising, writing in a journal, gardening, listening to music, dancing,...
Art Therapy and Eating Disorders

Art Therapy and Eating Disorders

Art Therapy in Eating Disorder Recovery What is Art Therapy?  Just as “talk therapy” involves communication and support through words – Art Therapy involves communication and support through art. It’s not necessary to be an “artist” to experience Art Therapy, or to be an Art Therapist. All that is necessary is a willingness to explore the use of a variety of art materials as a means of expression. As facilitated by an Art Therapist, the client explores the use of art materials, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to externalize feelings, reconcile emotional conflict, foster self-awareness, manage behaviors and addictions, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.  (Source: The American Art Therapy Association) What are the benefits of working with an Art Therapist? Clients can experience “art as therapy,” originated by pioneer art therapist Edith Kramer who believed art to be therapeutic in itself, and Art Therapy, a given directive or intervention used help meet the specific needs of a client. Art Therapists have a Master’s Degree or higher in a Mental Health field, with specialized training to conduct Art Therapy. My name is Murphy McCracken, and for the past 9 months I have been completing my internship at Positive Pathways, as a part of my Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology – Art Therapy Concentration. My internship intention was to offer the art making process to clients as a means of connection to their experience at times when words would not suffice. What kinds of Art Therapy are helpful for eating disorder recovery? Just as “talk therapy” is unique for each individual, and the therapist guides the conversation to best support...
DBT Group Denver – Mindfulness Tip

DBT Group Denver – Mindfulness Tip

DBT Group Denver – Mindfulness Tip Do you ever feel like you are going on auto pilot? Maybe you are “going through the motions” in your daily life. Perhaps you are expected to multi-task but you struggle completing things. Give yourself permission to SLOW DOWN! This is the first step in being mindful! Yes, it’s as easy as that…. Another way to start being mindful is to pay attention to your breath. You may have heard that before – and yes, it’s as simple as that! Take a few moments right now, and JUST BREATHE. To be mindful, simply NOTICE your breath. Don’t try to force or change your breath, just notice it. Notice your inhale, and your exhale. Notice the pace of your breath. Notice the depth of your breath. Stop reading for a moment right now, and JUST BREATHE. Notice the way your body feels as you pay attention to your breath. Hopefully you will feel more relaxed, that way you are better able to pay attention to your surroundings, be present and MINDFUL! Another helpful way to practice mindful breathing is through “square breathing”. Count to 4 as you inhale, then hold your breath for 4 counts, finally exhale for 4 counts. Repeat. It’s called “square breathing” because you can imagine drawing the four edges of a square in your mind as you count to 4. Or, some people like to trace the shape of a square on their leg as they count. Repeat again as many times as you would like. Breathing is just one way to practice mindfulness. My clients report that it is the EASIEST way to be...