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Eating disorders and body image can be accompanied by fear, pain, discomfort, and isolation. In therapy, we can explore these emotions impacting your relationship with food and your body and create a new relationship that allows for freedom and compassion. I also support loved ones who are impacted by eating disorders, developing support plans for caring for those who may be struggling.
Trauma impacts our sense of safety in the world, with others, and within ourselves. For those impacted by trauma and painful experiences, life can seem scary or overwhelming. People often respond to trauma with anxiety or avoidance, leaving the underlying hurt unresolved. With the support of a counsellor, you can find ways to process painful memories and create a future that feels safe and authentic.
Many Canadians will be impacted by depression or anxiety symptoms at some point in their lives. What is important is knowing you are not alone and help is available! I support my clients by practicing new coping skills and exploring the roots of emotions underlying depression and anxiety, such as sadness and fear. Taking small steps can ultimately lead to a life full of joy, motivation, confidence, and passion.
The eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image population is one that is near and dear to my heart. I wanted to include a section specifically exploring the topic of food and body image. If you are struggling know that help is available and you are not alone. I am also available to answer a
Eating disorders are complex and highly individual experiences. I cannot answer this question by listing symptoms or specific criteria, because each person has a unique relationship with food and their body. You may have an eating disorder if you find that you spend a lot of time or energy dedicated to food or exercise-related behaviours. You may have an eating disorder if your behaviours or feelings are highly distressing, impacting your ability to eat and enjoy life freely and without restriction or feelings of control. Disordered eating and eating disorders exist on a spectrum, rather than being clearly defined categories. What may be considered a health behaviour to one person may result in anxiety, distress, and impairment in another. Regardless if it is considered an eating disorder or disordered eating, we can work towards goals that will allow you freedom and peace.
Sadly, no one is immune from developing a challenging relationship with food or their bodies. We live in a culture that promotes so many troubling and confusing messages regarding physical and mental health. It is no surprise that many people are affected. From my experience working with individuals, I have seen that eating disorders have no culture, age, gender, sexuality, religion, or identity preference. I also have seen how marginalized communities can be disproportionately impacted due to the nature of the illness itself, plus stigma and discriminatory components. Regardless of who is impacted, there is hope and support available. Even if you do not identify with the "eating disorder" label, we can still explore ways of living free from food and body image anxiety.
YES! Full recovery is possible. I remember asking others this same question when I was in my own recovery, and I am grateful to be where I am to reassure you that you can get there too. Not every step is going to be easy, but with one small step at a time, it can happen for you. I can empathize with how exhausting, hopeless, and never-ending the process of recovery can feel, and yet it is still extremely worth it in the end.
It is never too late or too early to reach out for help. I often get asked when an eating disorder is considered "sick" or "serious" enough to warrant help. My response - if you are questioning whether something is off, or if you see area for improvement, it is worth the support. If there is room for things to get better, we can work towards it getting better. It would be an honor to have the chance to work with you at whatever stage of life and recovery you may be.
Recovery and therapy is going to look unique to each person. We will explore topics that are important to you, such as food, body image, emotions, supports, interests, identity, family, culture, environment, and more. We can identify larger therapy goals to work towards long-term, while setting smaller short-term goals to slowly get there. We can practice various coping skills and come up with plans for practicing self-care and healthy eating. We will likely explore the role of the eating disorder in your life in order to consider alternative ways of being that bring you joy and fulfillment beyond food and body image. If you have more questions about a therapy plan that will work for you, I am happy to connect further.
Currently in British Columbia, we have various levels of treatment available depending on an individual's needs and their local health authority. With appropriate referrals, there are inpatient hospital programs, residential inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment options available for youth and adults. There are also community resources and private professionals available in person or virtually. I strongly recommend checking out the Looking Glass Foundation (https://www.lookingglassbc.com/) and the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (https://nedic.ca/) for more information.
Caring for a loved one experiencing an eating disorder can be a difficult process. Often in an eating disorder, individuals isolate and push away support from others. Someone on the supporting end may have a strong desire to want to make things better, but they may fear by saying the wrong thing it could make things worse. Additionally, it may be confusing to see a loved one struggling with such an innate and human need for nourishment. Together, we can explore your own emotions and experiences caregiving for someone who is struggling, while developing tools to best support your loved one as you navigate the complex illness. I strongly recommend Emotion-Focused Family Therapy and Mental Health Foundations as resources for caregivers and loved ones who are offering support to others.
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