Eating disorders and addictions – to alcohol, drugs, gambling, work, sex, video games (the list can be endless) – are a way of seeking to escape overwhelming feelings. The bottle or the pills or restricting food or scratch cards initially appear to offer relief. However, they often end up causing life to spiral out of control.
Beating an addiction isn’t simple and can sometimes require support from several sources – not only psychotherapy but perhaps also a psychiatrist and a 12-step programme.
It is important to bear in mind that for people struggling with addiction, the bottle (or whatever) becomes the primary relationship in their lives. It is usually fruitless to try and limit the behaviour to just a glass or two; things tend to spiral out of control again.
Keeping an addiction at bay means finding other ways of dealing with powerful emotions and difficult situations. Psychotherapy helps to identify the origins of the problem as well as the triggers and then provides the containment for people to find healthier ways of dealing with what life throws at them.
I aim to help people address the dependence itself and rebuild a life that has been fractured both by the addiction and the circumstances or trauma that caused it.
Eating disorders aren’t about food. While a preoccupation with food, weight and exercise are central to these issues, underneath is a desperate need to control overwhelming feelings.
I have over 20 years’ experience of working with people with anorexia (food restriction), bulimia (bingeing and self-induced vomiting) and binge eating.
Treatment of eating disorders generally encompasses the psychological and the dietetic and is rarely straightforward. Addressing the underlying issues and supporting people as they face life’s challenges without these risky ‘coping mechanisms’ are fundamental to recovery.
Severe eating disorders often result in physiological damage. This means that private psychotherapy may not be enough. I often work with a network of professionals and may refer on someone who is so physically compromised that they require a more intensive intervention than I can provide.