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Anorexia Nervosa Counselling

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by an intense fear of gaining weight. This fear of weight gain can be triggered by a distorted body image, as well as a need to find control in one’s life.

Women and men can both suffer from Anorexia. Though the sufferer often feels like they can’t escape, help is available. Anorexia nervosa counselling or psychotherapy can help the client identify the feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and habits that impact eating behaviours and learn how to move forward.

Anorexia Nervosa Characteristics

Anorexia nervosa typically starts during the teenage years and is most common in women, although many men suffer too and usually in silence because there is a social belief that its a women only problem. Identifying that there is a problem is a huge step towards recovery.

The symptoms for Anorexia can be divided into four categories:

  • feelings and actions
  • physical signs
  • food rituals
  • suicidal feelings

If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it may be time for professional help.

Feelings and actions related to Anorexia can include: imposing food restrictions, seeing themselves as overweight, secretive food practices, being terrified of weight gain, excessive exercising, weighing less than their ideal weight.

Some physical signs of Anorexia include: shrunken breasts, brittle nails, dry skin, thinning hair, feeling constipated, having a low body weight, feeling cold, not having a menstrual cycle, and having low blood pressure.

Food rituals can include excessive chewing, rearranging food on the plate, and/or eating foods in a certain order.

Anorexia Nervoasa Treatment Options

When combating anorexia it is important that the client has support. This support can come from many places including family, friends, church, medical professionals, 12 step recovery such as OA, counsellors or psychotherapists, and/or nutritionists. In cases where the sufferers’ physical health is severely affected a hospital stay may be necessary in order to help with weight gain and address any medical concerns caused by the anorexia.

Medical professionals will be an important part of the team who help the client to address the medical conditions that have evolved as a result of the anorexia. A registered dietitian may be involved to provide nutritional counselling and help improve the clients eating patterns.

Counselling can help the individual reevaluate their eating patterns and take back control, most importantly is that the client wants help, they cannot be forced into this, it will not work.

How Can Anorexia Counselling or Psychotherapy Help?

Seeing a psychotherapist or a counsellor will provide the sufferer with a safe confidential environment to talk about the triggers, feelings, thoughts and beliefs that impact their relationship with food. The counsellor will act as a mirror to help the client to assess their relationship with food and begin to improve it. Together they will identify goals for treatment and work towards them.

Some goals will centre around the clients body image. Clients may work towards accepting and loving their bodies unconditionally and work towards improved self esteem and self worth as a result. Other goals will focus on their relationship with food. They will learn to eat with purpose and recognise that food is meant to nourish the body. In order to help the individual be successful in their plan, even on stressful days, the counsellor will help them to identify healthy coping strategies for feelings and emotions and how to implement them in life.