Eating disorders are often spoken of as one of the more difficult psychiatric diagnoses to treat. For many clinicians, the prospect of working with a client with eating disorder behaviors seems daunting. While it is true that eating disorders are complex and multifaceted in their presentation, they are also a way in which the body communicates what the mind cannot. It is said that when you can “crack the code” of what the eating disorder is communicating, you can help your client find the path back to their authentic self.
Using this hypothesis as a lens for discovery, we will explore the body-mind connection inherent in all eating disorders and present an approach to this work that is client-centered, empowering, and hopeful. Combining treatments that integrate both right and left brain learning has been proven to be incredibly effective in the treatment of eating disorders. For this reason, this presentation will establish the need for both “top-down” cognitive and “bottom-up” somatic approaches for helping to guide our clients into a well-rounded and comprehensive experience of recovery. Our focus during the presentation will center around the use of metaphor and imagery, and the introduction of somatic awareness and body-based interventions as a means of helping our clients advance in their recovery.
We will explore the use of metaphor and imagery as a way of bypassing the cognitive process, targeting the client’s unconscious awareness. We will also explore the use of somatic language as a metaphor to help the client in learning to reclaim safety in the body, regulate their mood, and strengthen their sense of self. We will explore how the use of these techniques help to work with and unravel the known resistance and pathological ambivalence that is a common and oftentimes difficult to treat element of eating disorder treatment. We will look at examples and case studies using these approaches to demonstrate how to utilize techniques in your own practices.
The exploration of somatic approaches to treating eating disorders provides an overview of the correlation between the nervous system, trauma, and eating disorders. This presentation will provide examples of how trauma can manifest in the creation of eating disorder behavior and interventions that can help clients regulate using the body. We will discuss best-practice approaches to treating trauma and eating disorders using a “bottom-up” approach and engage in experiential exercises that demonstrate examples of somatic interventions appropriate for this population.