Acceptance and commitment therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a cognitive-behavioural treatment that focuses on mindfulness and flexibility of thoughts and feelings. Acceptance and commitment therapy aims to increase awareness of a person’s experiences and his/her responses to their environment while maintaining their integrity.
Through acceptance and commitment therapy, a person with an eating disorder can learn to break the cycle of negative thoughts and impulses leading to destructive behaviours. Subsequently, feelings of negative body image may still return from time to time; however, the pathway to eating disorder behaviour has been disrupted and the person may no longer feel the need for such behaviours.
Acceptance and commitment therapy can assist in improving the lives of people with eating disorders, and lead to weight gain and a healthy attitude towards food and body image.
Yoga can help a person with an eating disorder engage in self care and personal nourishment. Research has shown that yoga can reduce stress levels which can lead to improved health and clearer thinking. Practicing yoga regularly can help people reconnect and become more in tune with their bodies and this can be especially helpful to people with eating disorders. Yoga can encourage a person with an eating disorder to stay grounded in the present and listen to the needs of their bodies.
While yoga on its own would not be sufficient treatment for an eating disorder, including yoga in the treatment approach of an eating disorder can help balance out the psychotherapeutic treatments and medication that are often required in recovery.
Meditation has been examined in over 1000 published research studies and has long been used as a spiritual practice and more recently, in the treatment of anxiety, addictions, pain management, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
Meditation can be done in different ways; it can be practiced sitting, standing or lying down and focusing on the breath and/or repeating a phrase or mantra.
Meditation can be an effective addition to the treatment of eating disorders, helping to reverse patterns of disregulated behaviours and emotions, increase self acceptance, decrease destructive coping strategies and promote awareness to the body’s physical cues of hunger. Overall, it is believed that meditation will enable general therapeutic change in a person with an eating disorder.
Remedial massage is a therapeutic form of massage that involves the systematic and scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body and is performed by a trained massage therapist. The therapist massages the body directly on the skin in a methodical and therapeutic manner.
Research shows that massage therapy can have a positive impact on people with eating disorders by reducing depression, anxiety and stress levels, decreasing body dissatisfaction and the drive for perfectionism, and increasing trust.
Massage therapy has been known to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine which are known to increase feelings of well being and happiness in people. This can lead to the improvement of many attitudes associated with eating disorders.
Mindfulness teaches people to respond to their thoughts without judgment and promotes a state of being in which the person is present in their thoughts, feelings, and body.
Mindfulness can be helpful in the treatment of eating disorders, particularly in addressing the feelings of shame and guilt that often accompany an eating disorder.
Mindfulness teaches acceptance and self compassion which can be key in combating negative thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness as an adjunct to treatment for eating disorders can also be effective in the development of skills relating to emotional regulation, distress tolerance and personal relationships.
Kinesiology is the science of energy balancing and human movement and has its roots in the study of anatomy and physiology.
Kinesiology proposes that the body has innate healing energy that flows through the body. Sometimes the body needs a little help or readjustment to release this energy as it may become blocked. Kinesiology works to balance this energy through addressing the physical and emotional stressors that can cause this ‘blockage.’
When effective, kinesiology can help the person’s body reinstate its natural healing energy.
As an additional treatment for people with eating disorders, kinesiology can help identify areas in which the person is nutritionally lacking, target emotional issues, relieve pain and increase mental and physical coordination.
Acupuncture is a natural form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that dates back thousands of years and is today a very popular form of treatment. Acupuncture involves inserting fine, sterile needles into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body.
Acupuncture focuses on both the prevention and treatment of illnesses, and maintaining general good health. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are trained in detecting signs of ill health and will address a person’s medical history, their general constitution as well as the symptoms they present with.
Traditional Chinese Medicine states that when the human body is in good health, a rich flow of energy courses uninterrupted through the body. Any blockage to this flow of energy can cause illness or discomfort to the person’s well being.
In people with eating disorders, blockages can be caused by stress, poor diet, over exercising, environmental conditions and other lifestyle factors.
Acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of eating disorders as it provides drug-free pain relief and takes a holistic approach to healing addressing physical, psychological and emotional signs.