Trauma-Informed Approaches to Eating Disorders is clearly a much needed and long overdue book about treatment, written by a diverse group of clinicians and carefully edited to focus on the needs and strengths of clinicians. The complexities and challenges that undergird, surround, and even haunt the nature, diagnosis, treatment, management, and understanding of eating disorders (EDs)-in-relation-to-trauma are so great, even for veteran clinicians, that they can leave practitioners at any level of experience feeling helpless and exhausted. This book, in a way that would be appreciated by practitioners of acceptance and commitment therapy, accepts the reality of those feelings and is committed to improving treatment, understanding, and compassion. The book is designed to foster respect for complexity and link it to humility in the presence of tragedy, tribulations, and suffering, framed all too often by our own shortcomings as healers. EDs are dangerous, ubiquitous, usually chronic in nature, and difficult to treat. Anorexia nervosa (AN) has the highest fatality rate (4%) of any mental illness. Bulimia nervosa reveals a fatality rate of 3.9%. EDs offer an enormous challenge to therapists because of their complexity, which includes severe medical risk, co-occurring anxiety, depression and personality disorders, an addiction component, and body image distortion—all of this within a mediadriven culture of thinness in which starving and purging can for some become lifestyle choices. This complexity is further exacerbated by the presence of painful life experiences or trauma. The book elucidates the connection between trauma and EDs by offering a trauma-informed phase model, as well as chapters describing the ways in which various therapeutic models address each of those phases. It offers an in-depth exposition of a fourphase model of trauma treatment.
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This chapter conceptualizes the preparation phase in three parts for teaching and learning purposes. The preparation phase of the four-phase model is not a one-and-done event. It is visited and revisited often during the therapeutic journey. The first part of preparation is stabilization, sometimes referred to as case management. It is the sine qua non for the remaining parts. The goal here is to make sure that the client is externally safe, as well as internally stable. A second part of the preparation phase is developing skills and resources. Among these are skills that involve changing internal states (self-soothing) and containment of disturbing affect. The third aspect of the preparation phase focuses on short-term successes in which the client gains mastery and confidence in dealing with changeable life circumstances, something of a personal trainer approach.
This chapter explores parts or ego states somewhere in the middle of the two that are invested in one or the other form of eating disorder (ED). “Ego state” and “part” are used interchangeably in this chapter. The chapter provides a short neurological explanation of ego states, their purpose, and the difference between dysfunctional and dissociated ego states. It provides an overview of various traditions of parts, which, although not exhaustive, can uncover the common and universal characteristics of ego state work. EDs are very difficult to treat in that they demand attention on so many levels: psychological, emotional, physical, behavioral. The authors believe that it is the reality of dissociation that makes this work all the more difficult, a reality that demands an invitation to all parts of our client to come together and collaborate in the service of healing.
This chapter provides a brief description on eating disorders and the case for emotions. Throughout this chapter, the author have used the terms “emotion” and “feeling” interchangeably, although neurologically they can be understood as different stages of the emotional experience. Much of this chapter is how the author teach clients emotional courage and competence, but it has also helped many clinicians in their own journeys. Change is what we most often fear, even if it means shaking off toxic residue and stepping into the unknown of a different and healthier identity. So-called “good” feelings often end up scaring us as much as the “bad” ones, because they, too, invite change. Feeling requires courage. The emotion knocking on your door is letting you know that you have reason to be excited or fearful and that your aliveness is calling you to a larger version of yourself.