Eating Disorder Treatment: More Than Treatment for Anorexia
As a treatment provider working with clients with eating disorders, one of the most common misconceptions I discuss with healthcare professionals is the idea that our facilities serve only those who are in treatment for anorexia nervosa. This could not be further from the truth. As for eating disorder treatment providers at Alsana, we see clients across the spectrum of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant and restrictive food/intake disorder (ARFID) and other specified feeding & eating disorders (OSFED).
In working with clients with eating disorders, I am curious about how they view themselves in terms of their race, gender, ability, religion/spirituality, and other identity-related factors that come into treatment with them. Some of these characteristics may have been disregarded, overlooked, or lost their significance while the client’s life and identities were consumed by the eating disorder and co-occurring mental illnesses. It is not surprising that when a client arrives in inpatient or residential eating disorder treatment they may over-identify (or be over-identified) by their behaviors and disconnected from the other aspects of their identity. Though the intentions in focusing on the behaviors may be well-meaning, sometimes these labels shift thinking towards an oversimplified narrative about the human being who arrives in treatment and set a course for a cookie cutter, simplified approach for care.
Clients with eating disorders are as diverse as the general public, with variability in race, gender, socioeconomic status, size, religion, ability/disability, birth order, sexuality, etc. As a treatment provider, I believe in creating space for rich exploration with clients to address parts of their identities that may be overlooked, unwanted, or shameful as much as I believe in exploring those that are wanted and celebrated. Though eating disorders continue to be associated with specific parameters of race, gender, class, and religion, there is an opportunity for the eating disorder treatment community to see clients as unique individuals with adaptive characteristics that support their lives in diverse cultural settings. At Alsana, our Adaptive Care Model and clinical programming with attention to life-giving and life-restoring activities create space for this meaningful exploration. I am eager and open to learning and collaborating with clients and colleagues about the ways in which components of identity can aid in the eating disorder treatment and recovery processes.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call us today at 888-822-8938 to learn more about our treatment for anorexia as well as all our eating disorder Treatment options.
Ashley Acle, AMFT
Assistant Director of Clinical Services