Eating Disorders Triggered by the Holidays

by Janine Vlassakis Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Believe you can and you're halfway there.                                   

Theodore Roosevelt 

The “most wonderful time of the year” can be tough for those suffering from an eating disorder. The holidays can be overwhelming and stressful with so much focus placed on food in social environments.  As a result many, and especially those with eating disorders, become anxious, upset or engage in disordered eating behaviors to attempt to mitigate their anxiety.  Here are suggestions to get through the holidays:

·          Remind yourself or your clients of common self-soothing practices and avoid dangerous coping mechanisms. 

·           Identify or encourage yourself or your client to identify what is “happy” about the holidays.  That simple reminder can help focus on the positive aspects of the season.

·          Families can play an integral part in helping the holidays be joyful. Remind your family or your clients’ family what a trying time this may be.  While food is an inherent part of most events during the holidays, families can help diffuse the focus by planning activities such as a craft or family game to focus on as a distraction. 

·          Remind your family or your client’s family that discussing your appearance may do more harm than good.  Help close family understand that statements such as, “you look so much better!” can translate to “I look fat” in your or your client’s mind.  Ask family to make other family members aware as well, so time with family can be remembered as positive rather than triggering negative emotions. 

·          If you or your client is taking a break from treatment over the holidays, be sure to address any concerns about being away and social situations.  Be sure to strategize and discuss skills to continue recovery. 

·          Arrange a time to start back into therapy after the holiday to continue treatment in the New Year.

·          Be mindful and encourage clients to be mindful of the positives of this time of year.  Focus on time spent with people supportive in recovery, and to create new happy memories to reflect upon next year.

Janine Vlassakis, M.Ed. is the Mid-Atlantic Professional Relations Coordinator for the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center.  Her role at CEDC is to provide clinicians and other professionals with information about the levels of care which CEDC offers.  In addition, with her background in counseling and education, she speaks regarding various topics relating to the complexity and treatment of Eating Disorders.  

 

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relationships, friendships | Self-Care | Social Work | Treatment Modalities

Will a marriage counselor tell me my partner is “right” and I’m “wrong”?

by Anita M. O'Donnell Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Couples counseling requires a balancing act in order to work well. If one person feels slighted or picked upon, the overall work is compromised. You don’t want to feel that the person who is supposed to be helping you is siding with your partner.

Typically, the subject that your partner and you disagree on feels crucial. Both people are bringing strong emotions to the discussion. For example, if you’re arguing about the frequency of sexual intimacy, one partner may feel very strongly that sex isn’t important enough to the other partner. This partner may feel rejected and undesirable as a result. The partner who looks like he/she is avoiding sex might be experiencing increased stress in daily life and may feel overwhelmed generally. The emotions this partner holds on a day-to-day basis can be debilitating. Is one person “right” and the other person “wrong”? No.

Both people are affected negatively by this disconnect in the relationship. The counselor might want them to talk to each other in the counseling session about their feelings on the topic, to explore the significance of sex, perhaps to even try some problem-solving around this subject. The counselor might help the couple build upon their knowledge of each other and their friendship. The relationship may exhibit other issues that could lead the counselor to work with the couple in building specific skills to improve the relationship. Additionally, do other factors exist that affect the sexual aspect of their relationship—medical problems, substance abuse, depression? These factors would need to be addressed as well.

In most cases, there is no “right” or “wrong” person. Counselors can look at the process of how the couple relates. Counselors can help couples focus on resolvable issues, rather than perpetual issues. Counselors can help couples learn new skills and improve upon existing skills.

Counselors that help couples transform how they relate to each other, stand a great chance of helping couples gain the knowledge to improve their relationship and love fully.


Anita M. O’Donnell, M.Ed., LPCMH, NCC provides individual and couples counseling in Wilmington, Delaware through her company SuccessWorks Unlimited, Inc. She also offers telephonic and face-to-face coaching. Ms. O’Donnell earned her M.Ed. from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1991. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/YourBestLifeToday and through her website www.successworksunltd.com.

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marriage | Therapeutic Relationship

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