What Goes on in Group Therapy for Anorexia?
One of the most beneficial treatments for overcoming anorexia is group therapy. During group therapy the group will usually sit in a circle. It is the counselor or psychologist’s job to ensure that everyone is comfortable and feels welcome and in a safe environment. Each member is addressed and greeted. While members in group therapy are always encouraged to be honest and open some anorexics may not yet feel comfortable sharing how they are feeling. In this case while no one is ever forced to speak openly it is always encouraged as this is the best path to healing.
Almost everyone will be nervous during their first few meetings as they feel as though no one will understand them or they do not want to be judged (although no one will judge them during therapy of counseling). However, one of the goals of group therapy for anorexia is to get to the point where each member feels comfortable talking and sharing.
Generally in group therapy the type of issues that will be addressed include discussing how everyone is feeling, and talking about better eating patterns, weight gain and self-esteem. Members may also be asked to weigh in during group therapy or before the meeting starts. The counselor or psychologist present will then help members with any negative feelings they may be having and will provide guidelines for healthy eating patterns.
There are a few basic rules for group therapy that are very important to follow. Some of these include respecting each person’s confidentiality as well respecting their time to share their feelings.
The Benefits of Group Therapy for Anorexia
One of the most important benefits of group therapy for anorexia is the camaraderie that is found. Many anorexics often find that they will seclude themselves from family and friends especially as their disease progresses. This seclusion may be a result of depression or a fear of someone finding out about the anorexia. Getting together with a group and sharing emotions is a huge step toward becoming social once again.
Another benefit of this type of therapy is that emotions and feelings are confronted. These feelings can range from fear and anger to inadequacy. Not only will the feelings and emotions be addressed but new steps and tools will be learned to help deal with them so that the healing process can begin. This is such an important part of therapy because it helps to address the fact that these feelings are normal and that there are better ways to go about handling them without resorting to habits and life styles that are self- destructive.
Group therapy is also helpful in the way that it is educational. Often times the physical and emotional consequences of anorexia are unknown to the individual and some people are shocked at the things that will happen to their bodies. They may not address their symptoms out of fear of the unknown. It is essential to know and be educated on all the different things that can and probably will happen to those living with anorexia.
Lastly, the most important aspect of group therapy for anorexia is the support that is found in this type of setting. Group therapy is meant to provide people living with certain diseases or those who have problems or addictions with a safe environment where they are able to express themselves without the fear of being judged or looked down upon. This is especially true for anorexia cases.
Most of those living with anorexia tend to have extremely low self-esteem and may be dealing with major feelings of inadequacy. Distancing from family members and friends for fear of rejection is very common. In group therapy it is taught that no matter what someone is feeling it is okay and they are able to make it through. Group therapy is a setting where being brutally honest is okay and there is no fear of hurting someone else or having them be disappointed. Support in group therapy may also be found in the fact that there are others living with the same disease so they are likely to be more understanding than those who have never suffered from anorexia themselves.