Eating Disorder Recovery: Shoulding on Yourself or Others

Eating Disorder Recovery: Shoulding on Yourself or Others

Shoulding on Yourself or Others: How Does this Affect Eating Disorder Recovery? What happens for you when I tell you this: You should lose weight. You should gain weight. You should eat more green vegetables and less carbs. You should exercise more. In other words… You are not OK as you are. How does that feel? Lisa Dion, the creator of a neurobiological-based form of play therapy, says that when we hear a “should,” our sense of Self is threatened. When shoulding on yourself, or when others should on you, your Authentic Self is directly challenged. You’re denying who you are in the moment and not seeing your own wisdom. This can create an internal dilemma between who you are and who you think you should be. The result is that the autonomic nervous system becomes activated trying to handle the discrepancy (Dion, 2015). Most clients in eating disorder recovery are already receiving a ton conflicting “shoulds.” These endless shoulding on yourself voices will often activate the trauma response in the body, especially when their actions don’t happen to match up with their perceived “shoulds.” If clients in eating disorder recovery are hearing endless “shoulds” regarding food, their weight, and following a specific plan, their nervous systems may be over-activated to the point of fight, flight, freeze, or collapse. Because their sense of Self is threatened, they are operating out of fear and are caught in their lower parts of their brain. These clients may not be able to access their prefrontal cortex and cerebral cortex, which are the parts of the brain that can hear rationalization and reasoning. This is why I would...
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.”...