Trauma Therapy for Eating Disorders...Thoughts from a Recovered Therapist
By: Gabrielle Morreale LPC
When I sat down to write this blog about trauma therapy and eating disorders, I didn’t know where to start. The overlap between the two diagnoses is undeniable. 1/4 of clients who suffer from eating disorders also suffer from symptoms of complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate among mental illnesses. I know these statistics may sound scary but they are real.
As someone who is personally recovered, I want to share a little bit about my own story before jumping into the clinical jargon. Unfortunately, throughout my life, I’ve experienced different traumas. They shaped me in many different ways. Although I am healed/healing and they made me stronger, they were difficult, challenging, and things I don’t wish on anyone.
My Journey With an Eating Disorder and Trauma
As a child, I was bullied and I’m not just talking about pushing down on the playground, I was bullied like the true meaning of that word. It went on for years relentlessly because I was different.
Also sadly, there was dysfunction and chaos in my household. We know that childhood trauma and eating disorders have a direct correlation. In addition, there were many losses, grief, and deaths. I also am a survivor of sexual violence and some religious trauma.
Also please note I am not blaming anyone for my disorder but there were some struggles in my early years that I do believe contributed.
Simply put my life has been a little chaotic from age 10 plus. I have worked hard to break some serious generation cycles. These experiences changed me deeply and it took time to heal.
They did contribute greatly to the long-standing history of my anorexia. For so long I existed in fight or flight mode, using my disorder and body as a way to say I wasn’t ok. However, I also believe they taught me to persevere and how to be an advocate for myself and others. For that I am grateful.
Recent Trauma Experience
I most recently endured a miscarriage after several rounds of fertility treatment. To say I wasn’t prepared for the deep despair that would come with this experience would be an understatement.
I hope one day to be able to write about this, and how I pushed in my recovery and stayed strong but I’m not there yet.
Despite this most recent trauma and thanks to lots of therapy and support from my loved ones and friends I can proudly say I haven’t relapsed in my eating disorder.
Have I had some slips, sure. I have also had to do an incredible amount of work to keep it at bay. Yet, I know in my heart it’s no longer my solution or my safety behavior. To learn more about slips in recovery check out our blog on this topic here.
There Is Hope For Healing Trauma
I say all this to say that healing truly is possible! I do not share this for you to pity me or for you to feel sorry. I share this because I deeply believe in my heart that therapy along with some others things like God, my tenacity, and some really great people saved my life over the years.
You can have healing too! There is hope! Sometimes we simply need to dig deep to find it! You don’t need to use your body to express how terrible you feel. Trauma-informed care can not only give you the strength but the language. You are never ever alone!
Trauma Therapy for Eating Disorders
Now with all the sappy stuff is out-of-the-way let’s get clinical. Trauma therapy should always consist of five key principles. These five key principles are:
At Recovered And Restored these principles are paramount to all of our services. Often times when someone experiences a trauma they feel out of control or have a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We do everything to restore our clients' sense of autonomy, strength, and hope.
Trauma work is not easy but it is necessary. Many times when someone has experienced a trauma and is choosing to engage in their eating disorder it is because the eating disorder feels safe or like a solution.
However, it is quite the opposite. In trauma therapy, we will work to restore one’s sense of self and safety. We also use practical interventions to help clients heal while engaging less and symptom usage.
Please note it is not appropriate to do intense trauma therapy or trauma work in general unless the client is medically stable and has been able to decrease their symptoms successfully for at least 4-6 weeks.
In order to gain these five principles in therapy relational work has to be done. Relational therapy is a psychoanalytic modality that prioritizes the relationship between the client and the therapist. Relational therapy is also referred to as relational-cultural therapy, due to its consideration of the clients' past and present relationships, race, gender identity, SES, and sexual and political orientation.
The function is for therapists and clients to build strong bonds with their clients and try to understand the influence of past experiences. See how the 5 key principles could come into play here?
You Are the Expert on Yourself
As a therapist especially when we are doing trauma work we much remember the client is ALWAYS the expert on themselves these is NO exception to this and relational therapy keeps this mindset at its forefront as do we at R and R. Relational work is all about the therapeutic alliance.
Once the alliance is developed we can start building on these principles allowing clients a space to share about their past and present traumas and digging deep to heal from them. This is not easy work but it is possible and you are worthy of this type of care.
Common Trauma Therapy Treatment Methods
Additionally, some common therapeutic modalities used for trauma work are:
Creative Arts Therapy, also known as Art Therapy or Movement Therapy and Drama Therapy
Please know there are many ways to approach healing from trauma these are just a few which we wholeheartedly endorse. Click here to learn more about the models used at recovered and restored.
I want to end by reiterating that you are worthy of healing from your trauma you can break generational cycles. You do not have to stay stuck even when that feels impossible or you are deep in despair. You are never alone and we are rooting for you ALL THE WAY!!!
Here are some resources to learn more about trauma and eating disorders and trauma-informed care:
Recovered and Restored Eating Disorder Therapy Center
If trauma from, your past is robbing you of your future, our online therapy services in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Florida are here to help you regain control of your life. Our team of skilled professionals specializes in eating disorders and their related traumas! Led by recovered individuals that can relate to where you are at on your journey, we want nothing more than to help you live your best life! If you are thinking about reaching out for help here are some basic steps to get you started on your journey to healing past traumas.
Fill out our quick and easy contact form online and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.
Now that you’ve reached out, take a minute to get to know our team here. We encourage you to get to know us, our specializations, and our credentials.
Begin your journey to health and wholeness! You CAN do this!
Other Mental Health Services Offered in PA, NJ, DE, and FL
At our eating disorder therapy center understanding past trauma plays a key role in recovery. That’s why we offer a wide variety of services related to eating disorder recovery including trauma therapy! We offer Weekly Support Groups, Nutrition Services, and Family and Parent Therapy as well as Coaching, all tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual. We offer our services online in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida! We are here to offer our support and understanding in a safe and non-judgemental environment.
We have immediate openings right now for eating disorder therapy in:
Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
And recovery coaching worldwide.
Click here to get started with therapy today! : https://www.recoveredandrestoredtherapy.com/.
Recovered and Restored is an eating disorder therapy center founded by Gabrielle Morreale. We specialize in helping teens and young women heal from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and binge eating disorder and treat disordered eating, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We provide eating disorder therapy in the towns of Horsham, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd, North Wales, Lansdale, Hatfield, Blue Bell, Doylestown, and nearby towns with eating disorder therapy. Also providing virtual eating disorder therapy in New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. Some towns served virtually but are not limited to Pittsburg, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Center City, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Mount Laurel, Cape May, Avalon, Brick, Dover, New Castle, Bethany Beach, Marydel, and Oceanview.