3 Ways to Enhance Your Personal Relationships During Eating Disorder Treatment

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Anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) - it doesn't matter what type of eating disorder you have, it can affect your personal relationships with other people. Through the best eating disorder treatment, you will learn a lot about how to break through those social relationship challenges to find a better way to connect with others. Check out some of the ways to enhance your personal relationships during your time spent in an eating disorder treatment center.

Take Part in Group Therapy Activities During Eating Disorder Treatment

Even though the people who are in treatment with you may be total strangers, they will often have things in common with you and understand you in ways that others cannot. When you enter the best eating disorder treatment facilities, group therapy is often provided or even a requirement. If you want to see your personal relationships with others get better, taking part and being active in group therapy activities can be hugely beneficial. During group therapy, you will: 

  • Develop new communications skills that can be used in other relationships
  • Build confidence in yourself when it comes to discussing your thoughts and feelings or offering advice
  • Find new ways to express your thoughts when conversing with others

An eating disorder psychologist tends to lead group meetings during eating disorder treatment. They will guide the conversations, but they will also allow time for discussions between group members to help encourage the development of those social skills that may be lacking. 

Invite Your Close Family Members for Family Therapy 

Family therapy is an integral part of many types of psychological treatment, and it is for good reason. In many ways, those who you have had the closest relationships with have been living with an eating disorder just like you have; the primary difference being that they have to deal with the repercussions of your actions in a different way. Having your family work through the issues relative to the disorder is part of the best eating disorder treatment. Once you get out of treatment, your family will be the people you rely on to help you when you have a tough time with recovery.

Open Up to Loved Ones About Your Disorder and Recovery

Those who spend some time with an eating disorder psychologist often find themselves facing stumbling blocks in their personal relationships because they have kept their disorder a secret for so long. It is hard to reach out for help from the people you love, but those are the people who will support your recovery once you leave an eating disorder treatment center. According to Psychology Today:

"Seeking help when you are struggling is a sign of strength, not weakness."

Family Involvement and Counseling

Opening up to your loved ones about your disorder shows that you are building strength and a good support system to move forward with your life. Whether it is your parents, siblings, or significant other, these people will be able to help you more when they understand what you have been through with your eating disorder.

Treatment at either an inpatient (residential) or outpatient (day treatment) can’t last forever. That’s why the family’s involvement in the aftercare period and afterwards is so essential. By employing various techniques and practices used while in treatment, such as journaling, family counseling sessions, planned restaurant excursions and cooking sessions, people in recovery can include their family in their treatment.  This direct involvement strengthens the bonds between the people involved and produces a support system, which is essential in relapse prevention and ongoing recovery.  

Overcoming Shame and Asking for Help

An eating disorder is a condition that is oftentimes so private and involves a lot of shame, these personal feelings can easily affect how you interact with the people around you. However, through treatment and therapy, you will learn how to open up and rebuild those relationships that may have suffered throughout your disorder.

Trusting those closest to you is key when starting, and also when finished, eating disorder treatment. When the family is involved from the beginning, it makes the entire journey a collaborative affair. Reach out to a qualified professional or facility to find out more about involving your family and friends as part of your eating disorder treatment options.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CARRIE HUNNICUTT

With 20 years of behavioral health business development experience, Carrie combines world-class marketing, media, public relations, outreach and business development with a deep understanding of client care and treatment. Her contributions to the world of behavioral health business development – and particularly eating disorder treatment  – go beyond simple marketing; she has actively developed leaders for her organizations and for the industry at la