News from April 2018

Compassion Supports Recovery

April 17th, 2018

When people struggle with an eating disorder, they often experience high levels of shame and self-criticism. Actively practicing techniques of self-compassion can be beneficial in eating disorder recovery.

What is self-compassion? 
Self-compassion is directing the loving kindness shown to others and to yourself. Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, has defined self-compassion as recognizing that you are suffering in a moment or situation, and being kind and understanding toward yourself.

From her studies, she identified three core elements of self-compassion:

  1. Kindness: When we are suffering is when we most need to be kind to ourselves.
  2. Shared Humanity: You are not alone in your suffering.
  3. Mindful Awareness: When we meet our most challenging thoughts and emotions with curiosity (mindfulness) instead of judgment, we don’t over-identify with them or become consumed by them.

Compassion Focused Therapy for Eating Disorders (CFT-E)
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) was first developed to target self-criticism and shame, as they were identified as key components of a number of mental health disorders. 

CFT trains our minds (Compassionate Mind Training) to help us experience compassion, develop various aspects of compassion for ourselves and others, improve our abilities to self-soothe, and to foster the courage and wisdom we need to cope with difficult life events, memories or emotions.

CFT-E is designed to develop the compassionate self and use it to:

  • Develop sensitivity, awareness and understanding regarding the way eating and emotions have become linked.
  • Develop empathy for the self and the problems that the eating disorder may have tried to solve, as well as the unintended consequences of these attempts.
  • Develop wisdom around the challenges of recovery.
  • Develop motivation to care for the self in a way that is in one's own best interests and therefore commit to engage in recovery.
  • Develop the confidence and courage needed to offer understanding, support, advice and encouragement to the self. (Goss & Allan, 2010, 2011)

Gentle, self-led compassion for the pain and suffering, and the gratitude for strategies that made life bearable at the time, are recognized in the course of therapy at Fairhaven. The journey of realizing that these extreme behaviors are no longer needed (in cases where they are not) and that the client can reclaim her joy is our goal. 

You are not your eating disorder. Your eating disorder developed to protect you from severe emotional pain. Where self-loathing and disgust existed, there is a now a window with a small opening looking out toward self-compassion. 

When you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to treat them with dignity and compassion. If you’d like to talk to someone about eating disorders, contact a specialist or a counselor at Fairhaven Treatment Center today.


Share this post:

What is Body Dysmorphia?

April 10th, 2018

Every day, most of us look in the mirror several times to check our appearance. Most probably struggle with some negative self-talk when looking in the mirror - thinking various thoughts that chip away at self-confidence. But those thoughts typically last for a few minutes, and then drift away as focus shifts to the activities of the day. 

People with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) think about their real or perceived flaws for hours each day, causing them severe emotional distress and interfering with their daily lives. Research shows it affects men and women almost equally and occurs in approximately 1 in 50 people in the general population of the United States.  

  • BDD often begins to occur in adolescents 12-13 years of age (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It typically surfaces during adolescence and is characterized by obsessive thinking about a flaw that is imagined or, if real, hardly noticeable. Those with BDD compulsively check their perceived flaw and take excessive precautions to hide from others so it will go unnoticed. 
  • BDD is preoccupation with one specific body part. The perceived flaw can happen anywhere on the body, but the most common places are hair, skin, stomach, nose, chin and chest. 
  • BDD is not self-obsession. Self-obsession is the state of being interested in oneself, one's happiness, motivations and interests to the exclusion of other things and is characterized by an exaggerated love of self. Those with BDD feel ashamed of their appearance and suffer from a serious mental illness that affects how they view themselves.
  • The thoughts caused by BDD are difficult to control and disrupt daily life. 
    Individuals with BDD spend an average of 3-8 hours per day thinking about their perceived flaw and doing what they can to hide or change it. It's difficult to focus on important tasks, affects performance at work or school, and causes social isolation.
  • Body Dysmorphia may accompany an eating disorder, but it's important to note that they are two separate disorders. BDD focus on a specific body part, whereas an eating disorder is more generalized to shape and weight concerns. To be diagnosed with an eating disorder eating must be impaired. A diagnosis for BDD states that the individual is overly concerned or convinced that they are misshapen or deformed even though the physician finds either no abnormality at all or, if one is present, a trivial abnormality that would typically go unnoticed.

If you'd like to talk to someone about BDD or an eating disorder, contact a specialist or a counselor at Fairhaven Treatment Center today. 

The goal of the treatment team at Fairhaven is to help clients realize they have the strength within themselves to achieve healthy connectedness, both personally and with others. This process of self-discovery helps our clients reclaim the joy in their lives. We use proven evidence-based therapy for eating disorder symptoms and co-occurring problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma and attachment disorder, a history of addiction or substance use disorder, as well as other challenges that contribute to and perpetuate the disorder. 



Share this post: