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The Role of Counseling in Overcoming Bulimia

written by: Nichole Bolton • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 12/7/2010

Seeking counseling for bulimia can be the hardest step toward recovery, but is often times the best step that someone with bulimia takes. Bulimia counseling can be individual, group or in-patient, depending on the needs of the individual.

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    Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder which involves periods of binging on large amounts of food and then purging, through making oneself sick or by taking laxatives. Counseling plays a large role in the recovery from bulimia, as it provides bulimics with the help and support they need to get better. Different types of bulimia counseling are available, and patients must discover which ones help them the most.

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    Types of Counseling Available for Bulimia

    One type of counseling for bulimia is individual counseling. This involves meeting with a counselor one-on-one, usually a few times a month, to talk about eating disorder triggers and methods for coping. Individual bulimia counseling may also involve meeting with a nutritionist to talk about healthy eating. Bulimics may also be required to meet with a doctor throughout therapy to check for any signs of health effects from bulimia.

    Another form of bulimia counseling is group counseling. This method allows a group of bulimics to meet together once a week with health professionals to discuss how their recovery process is going. Some bulimia support groups follow a structured discussion plan, while others allow patients to just discuss any part of their lives during the meetings. Bulimia group meetings may invite guest speakers who have recovered from bulimia to come in and talk to those present.

    In-patient counseling is also available to bulimics who are in an eating disorder treatment center. In-patient counseling usually consists of meeting with a team of doctors to monitor health, meeting with a therapist for one on one counseling and attending group meetings. In-patient programs may also include art, music and horticultural therapy.

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    How Counseling Helps Bulimics

    Different types of bulimia counseling help in different ways. For example, individual counseling can help someone to really get down to the underlying causes and triggers of their eating disorder. Many people are able to open up in this more private and personal setting, making individual therapy not only a safe place to talk about their eating habits but also to discuss other emotional aspects of their life.

    Group counseling for bulimia helps patients to feel safe and secure, and realize that they are not alone in their disorder. Bulimia is a very isolating disorder, and it often helps to know that others are going through the same thing. Many times, guest speakers who discuss their eating disorder recovery can help patients to see that there is hope and that they can get better.

    In-patient counseling can help bulimics because they are able to put their main focus on getting better. Patients in treatment are monitored and must participate in daily routines with the group; it is harder for a bulimic person to relapse during this process. If they do relapse, they are able to quickly meet with a counselor or doctor to cope with the emotions they are struggling with.

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    In summary, someone with bulimia must try out the different forms of bulimia counseling to decide which works best for them. Although taking that first step to getting help can be hard, many people have done it and gone on to gain control over their eating disorder and their life.

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    References

    HelpGuide.org: Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery - http://helpguide.org/mental/eating_disorder_treatment.htm

    National Eating Disorders Association: Seeking Treatment - http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/SeekTxQs.pdf