No one can choose the best eating disorder treatment for you. But, we’re bold enough to believe we can supply you with some helpful tips. Then you can navigate better the maze of options available.
Tip 1: Explore
Getting started is always the hardest part of any new venture. We often don’t know where to begin! So, just accept that natural fear and plunge ahead anyway. Google your options. Ask trusted friends. Call a professor in the psychology department at the local university. Walk in to the neighborhood free clinic.
None of these is guaranteed to work and rarely will your first attempt reveal the best eating disorder treatment for you. But getting over the panic of “What do I do first?!” is a huge step forward all by itself. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to start. None of us is born a therapy expert.
Tip 2 Narrow the Focus
Now that you’ve drunk a little from the firehouse of available options, take a deep breath and narrow your focus.
Ask yourself if you’re seeking inpatient or outpatient treatments. The first requires residence in a special clinic or hospital setting. The second involves visits to a therapist’s office. Call around and ask questions of both types to get a feel for what they’re like.
Consider, in consultation with a professional, whether individual therapy or group therapy is best for you. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes, it starts as one and evolves to the other. Sometimes, it can go back and forth, depending on your situation and personality.
Here again, call and ask questions of the professionals and compare their answers. Trust your instincts.
Tip 3 Yes, But What Questions?
Twice, we’ve recommended asking questions. But you may never have sought treatment for an eating disorder before. What questions should you ask?
This is another example of that ‘bootstrap’ problem discussed above; finding a handle to get started is hard. Let your common sense be your guide. Then supplement it with some of these possibilities:
What is the potential therapist’s/clinic’s area of expertise? Is it specifically about eating disorders? (EDT is a specialty; you don’t want just any psychotherapist, but one with a successful track record.)
Are family members involved? If so, at what stage? (Hold firm on whatever you are comfortable with here. It’s your health. But, over time, be willing to explore all forms. Difficulty with family relationships is one common cause of anorexia or bulimia in the first place.)
What, specifically, does the treatment entail, and for how long? (The answer will give you helpful information about interaction style, likelihood of success, costs, and other vital aspects.)
Tip 4 Be Realistic
Sure, everyone says “be realistic.” But what does it really mean?
Too often, it’s just code words for “stoically accept something crummy.” There’s no need for that. Realism can also mean” pursuing excellence” because reality can be good.
In the trap of your eating disorder, it won’t feel that way, but look around. There are lots of happy, healthy people. Some of them had an eating disorder, but no longer. You can be one of them.
What does this have to do with choosing an eating disorder treatment? Lots! If you explore diligently but accept limitations realistically, you can avoid disappointment but still get what you need.
The clinic may be farther from home than is ideal. The therapist may not be as friendly as you think he/she ought to be. The Rolls Royce clinic may be too expensive. The treatment plan may extend longer than you expected.
On the other hand, accepting the real world with all its pros and cons is one important step toward getting well. Trying to adopt that attitude even before formal treatment begins is the first step of treatment itself.
Tip 5 Be Idealistic
Huh? Didn’t you just advise…? Sure, realism is important. But believing you can get better – that you can find the right eating disorder treatment, and that it will succeed – is vital.
Always believe that you can become healthy. Your inner will makes it possible. Real-world successes around you prove it, too.