Conquering an eating disorder can be a challenging process to undertake. Where do you start? What are the steps needed for eating disorder recovery?
The questions can start to pile up faster than you can deal with and you can quickly become overwhelmed.
If you feel that you’re struggling to understand how to recover from your eating disorder, rest assured that you are not alone.
Recovery is absolutely possible, and it all starts with understanding the process. Keep reading on to find out more about the eating disorder recovery process and how it can help you get back on the right track.
The 6 Stages of Eating Disorder Recovery
Prochaska and DiClemente (1984) described stages of change model. Although initially used to describe the recovery process in addiction, over the years, this model has proved to be helpful in understanding the process that most individuals go through when attempting to make major behavioral health changes. These stages are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and relapse. It is important to note that individuals can move back and forth amongst these stages and can spend varying amounts of time at any particular stage. So, for example, one might spend a year contemplating the possibility of going into recovery and then spend only a week or two in the preparation stage before taking action.
Pre-contemplation is the stage before one acknowledges a problem. This may look like denial to others but it often involves a lack of awareness of the need to change. In this stage, you may deny that there is anything wrong even when friends, family, and care providers say they are concerned.
Contemplation involves beginning to identify the problem. In this stage, you realize there is something wrong or you’re ready to admit it. Thoughts of making a change appear in your mind but you’re not quite ready to do anything about it.
After contemplating, you prepare to solve the problem (for example, you may begin to read on the internet to get more information, you may ask friends for names of therapists, etc.). In this stage, you are ready to solve the problem by taking small steps forward such as: Getting support from your family members or speaking with a professional eating disorder psychologist.
The action stage is probably the most labor intensive because it involves doing concrete things to change your behavior, such as practicing new skills, attending therapy sessions, and breaking old patterns. In this stage, you are ready to make a change to get better, and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the proper treatment to get rid of your eating disorder, cope, and heal.
In the maintenance phase, the new skills you have acquired are more solidified and internalized to a point that you may not need to actively practice them on a daily basis or it may not require great effort to implement these skills anymore. In this stage, it is important to stick to the plan and to try to avoid situations that cause you to slip.
Relapse, unfortunately, is often a part of recovery. While it can take a while to get back into active recovery, relapses can also help individuals recognize areas of further growth, make difficult choices about how to stay in recovery permanently (such as changing friend groups or getting a different job), and sometimes just get “real” with themselves about what recovery is going to really take.
It’s Okay to Ask for Support
When we are not at our best, it is tempting to withdraw from others, assuming that they won’t understand our struggles, that they feel burdened by our problems, or simply can’t handle them. While it is possible that the people closest to us may not have all the answers, they often care deeply about you getting better. Even if you don’t feel ready to share all the details of your struggles, it can be enormously helpful to share your desire for recovery with those who care about you. If you don’t feel you can share this information with your family or friends, you can seek out a professional, a local support group, or even an online community. In general though, those who inform the people in their support network about their desire for recovery fare better than those who do not.
Recovery Starts Here
Eating disorder recovery can be a process that may be difficult to handle all on your own. Thankfully, you don’t have to.
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders (all types) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, coordination of a treatment team, and much more.
Have any questions about the eating disorder recovery process? I’d be happy to answer them. Simply reach out to me and I’ll be sure to answer anything you want to know.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.