If we look at Eating Disorders from the vantage point of coping mechanisms gone wrong, I think it’s important to consider how they might have felt helpful in the first place. I know this sounds dangerous because I certainly don’t want to romanticize them in any way and I’m pretty sure no person out there struggling with an eating disorder would wish it on their worst enemy. But in my experience as a therapist helping women in recovery, I’ve found there’s always a reason that an eating disorder has shown up and from what I can tell, this often seems to stem from a desire for connection in some way. Wanting to connect on a deeper level, or feeling as though you can’t connect, or even feeling the need for protection from unwelcome advances. The experience of an eating disorder is complex and can be confusing and consuming on so many levels. And if this piece – that of connection – is so important, then what better way to reconnect and heal than through the group process? Surrounded by people who understand how body image can play such a significant role in all of it, along with the experience of overwhelm and being torn between wanting to get better and not wanting to let go. The great thing about group is that you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. When you’re surrounded by people in your tribe, you get a variety of perspectives, learn how others find success in recovery and can begin to see solutions in a new light. You learn the value in owning what is most concerning and important to you and as you interact socially, you start to find your voice and allow the group to act as your sounding board. The opportunity to both give and receive support helps to nurture awareness and acceptance of self and others. You learn to relate to yourself and others in healthier ways, by having a safe environment in which to test the waters; you learn what healthy boundaries look like and practice being assertive. And maybe most importantly, you get to see that others can experience similar difficulties and still grow past them. Not only that, but others in the group can bear witness to your efforts and validate your growth. If you’re considering it, I hope you’ll give it a try – group therapy may be just the thing that helps to propel you forward.
Copyright 2019 © Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.
Rachel Braun, ATR-BC, LPC Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA
Specializing in anxiety, depression and eating disorders.