There are many types of therapeutic tools. There’s talk therapy – where you talk about your experiences and express your feelings. There are counsellors who take this approach and also incorporate massage, breath work, body work, movement or role-playing. Some counsellors use art, writing or theatre – others use hypnosis.
If you start working with someone and the counselling doesn’t meet your needs – change to a new therapist.
Be willing to do a fair amount of work to find a counsellor – you don’t have to go to the first person you find. Speak to prospective counsellors on the phone, compare their orientations, and how you feel when you talk to them. Also consider the cost.
Questions you may like to ask
- Have you ever worked with women with eating difficulties? What kind of training do you have in this work?
- How do you work with people who have eating disorders? What are the techniques you use?
- What do you think are some of the contributing factors in how we develop issues around food?
- Do you think self-help / support groups are useful for people with eating issues?
- How much do you charge? Do you have a sliding scale of fees?
- Do you have experience in working with bi-sexual people, homosexual people, sexual abuse, alcohol related issues, marriage guidance? (include any other issues that may be relevant to you).
You may also wish to work with only women or only men, and may want to make choices around the race, socio-economic background, sexual preference and religion / spirituality of your counsellor. Don’t be afraid to make these preferences.
What does effective counselling feel like?
You should feel understood and supported, warmth between you and your counsellor.
Counselling may not always feel comfortable, but you know when you’re with someone who is right for you when you feel that you are developing more skills to heal yourself as time goes on. You become able to recognise your own patterns and to feel and interpret your own emotions, as time goes on you may look to develop more independence.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Ed.) United States of America: American Psychiatric Association.
Bulik, C, (1994). Eating Disorders: Detection & Treatment. New Zealand. Dunmore Press Limited.
Leon, G.R., Fulkerson, JA., Perry, CL, Cudeck, R. (1993). Personality and Behavioural Vulnerabilities Associated with Risk Status for Eating Disorders in Adolescent girls. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 102.(3) 438-444.