Eating disorders: understand where psychotherapists are coming from

Many psychotherapists’ training places great importance in finding the ‘underlying causes’ of patients’ problems. If their approach is relational or psychodynamic (founded on psychoanalysis), their model is that in order to get better, the patient needs insight: ‘What caused my problem?’ And if you ignore causes, even causes from your earliest childhood, your problems will spill out in other domains.

For a clinical psychologist who hasn’t specialised in eating disorders, it is counter-intuitive to ignore early childhood or family dynamics.

Don’t beat up your child (or yourself) for failing in spite of therapy

Anyone who engages with psychotherapy is showing courage and willingness to make changes and take risks. The greater the changes, the more we’re likely to stumble and fail for a while. It takes time to use new tools. I make a plea to all families to be patient with the process and to resist criticising and lecturing every time the person having therapy fails to apply it. ‘Stop shouting and do your bloody CBT!’ isn’t going to work.

You yourself may be trying to apply some of what you’ve read here.

Internal conflict: self-compassion and how to mediate arguments in your brain

The challenges of supporting a child suffering from an eating disorder often take us to our very limits. It’s normal for us parents to have a huge lot of regrets.

If you’re finding it hard to disentangle yourself from blame and shame, or if you’re getting eaten up by thoughts of what you could have done better, try this self-compassion and acceptance exercise.
The idea is to get two conflicting parts of your mind to talk to each other in order to come to a peaceful resolution.

Anorexia: more resources for parents on Pinterest

Having drafted a huge number of words for my book, I’ve been delighted to discover Pinterest, which is all about pictures. Which, as we all know, say a thousand words.

The parent’s part in eating disorders diagnosis

Find out how eating disorders are diagnosed, the pitfalls you can guard against, and get tips on how to get expert care without delay.
This is a chapter from my book.

Final words: joy

It’s time for goodbyes and I want to send you all my wishes. I so hope that you have found support in this book. For all the time I’ve been writing here, I have held you in my mind, as a dear friend. I’d like to finish with joy. Is it insensitive to talk of …

Partners, family, friends and work: help or hindrance?

This is a section from Chapter 11 of ‘Anorexia and other eating disorders – how to help your child eat well and be well’ How do you get your spouse, your other children, your family, to function well as a team? What about the outside world, with money and work concerns, and people who don’t …

Appendix: Compassionate or Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

Compassionate Communication, or Nonviolent Communication, or NVC (all trademarked terms for the same thing) is a framework originally devised by Marshall B Rosenberg, which continues to develop worldwide through the Center for Nonviolent Communication and its network of Certified Trainers. The approach has been used, and continues to be used, in conflict resolution in war-torn zones, and is …

The road to full recovery: school, exercise, appetite, relapse-prevention and the rest

This is a section from Chapter 10 of ‘Anorexia and other eating disorders – how to help your child eat well and be well’ How do we deal with school or everyday challenges in the early days, and how do we return to normal after the worst is over? How do we prepare our children …

What parents need to know about the causes of eating disorders

There are many outdated theories about what causes eating disorders. Here’s what you need to know so that you can focus on what matters. If your mum thinks you gave your child an eating disorder, show her this. This is the whole of Chapter 5 of ‘Anorexia and other eating disorders – how to help …