In a previous post on resilience in treating Eating Disorders, I touched on the power of DBT in working with sufferers of eating disorders. This post goes into more detail about the method and its suitability for treating people with eating disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder.

Anyone in the field of helping people recover from eating disorders knows that the approaches to this healing process vary widely.  Most approaches typically include a combination of practical changes to what is eaten and how often it is eaten, and uncovering and adjusting emotional issues and belief systems that sustain the eating disorder.

We at Montrose Manor work exclusively with people suffering from an eating disorder, most commonly Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. And whilst we see that a change in that person’s relationship to food and its intake is essential, there are key underlying issues that need to be addressed and altered.

DBT was developed and designed for people who struggle with overwhelming emotions. Whether these emotions preceded the onset of the eating disorder or not, living with an eating disorder invariably means living with very strong, and usually overwhelming, emotions.

The therapy modality was developed by Dr. Marsh Linehaan and the word Dialectic means balance and compare.  The application of DBT is about achieving balance between change and acceptance.

Change the behaviours in your life that are destructive and cause suffering and accept the way you are.
The goal is simple:

When confronted by one or more overwhelming emotion, the goal is to:

  1. decrease impulsivity and acting out behaviours, and
  2. create calmness in order to make more effective decisions

DBT utilizes a system of stages and target goals. It uses a progression system that focuses on the most prevalent issues first, such as injurious or harmful conditions, and then reverts to the less pressing issues in order of relevancy to the continuation of treatment.

The four main stages are as follows:

1.   Distress Tolerance.

We teach techniques to help patients step back from their situations and to tolerate emotions.

2.   Mindfulness

We cultivate the ability in our patients to focus on their thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and actions, in the present moment, without judging or criticizing themselves or their experience.

3.   Emotional regulation

We help our patients identify and label emotions accurately, while accounting for primary and secondary emotional experiences.

4.   Inter Personal Effectiveness

Interpersonal response patterns which are taught in DBT skills training are very similar to those taught in many assertiveness and interpersonal problem-solving classes. They include effective strategies for asking for what one needs, saying no, and coping with interpersonal conflict.

If you are suffering from an eating disorder and you need help, contact us for a confidential assessment of your situation here.