Eating Disorders and Body Image

EATING DISORDER THERAPY

Seattle based eating disorder treatment and body image therapy focused on addressing root causes in order to find lasting relief.

What is the Cause of Eating Disorders? What Makes a Good Eating Disorder Treatment?

Struggling with eating disorders can leave you feeling like you are treading water. You may find that you spend most of your time worried about food, counting calories and generally filled with loneliness, low self esteem and emptiness.

On top of all that it’s difficult to talk about eating disorders with people that just don’t understand what you are going through. We understand. Our eating disorder specialists can help.

You may be wondering, is it possible to enjoy food again? Can I regain control over my life? Yes. We know that it’s possible, because we have helped clients find balance. It can be challenging to change the relationship that you have with your body and food, but with the right help you can do it.

We understand that any successful eating disorder treatment involves a look at underlying issues like trauma, body image, shame and self esteem, and only then should treatments involve coping and management strategies.

Our eating disorder therapy is designed for ordinary people who need a treatment plan personalized to their strengths and goals. In the following pages you may see certain conditions listed that may help you conceptualize your struggle, but we want to emphasize that you are more than your diagnosis and no one client fits perfectly into any box. A successful treatment is centered around your personal struggle.

Acuity’s 1-on-1 Therapies for:


Anxiety »


Depression »


Relationship Issues »


Grief & Loss »


Trauma & PTSD »


Eating Disorders and Body Image »


OUR THERAPY APPROACHES

(CBT) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy »
(EDMR) Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing »



Our Clinicians also help with:

  • Personal Growth
  • Navigating Life Transitions (relocation, career changes, stage of life growth)
  • Existential Concerns
  • Managing Anger or Panic
  • Gaining control over Substance use & Addiction

Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:

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Eating Disorders are a Major Medical Concern

If you are thinking about seeking treatment for an eating disorder, you are taking the right first step to get better. Eating disorders are particularly dangerous as they have the highest mortality rate when compared to other mental health disorders. The fact is that you need to retain a certain level of nutrients and water to keep your body operating as normal. Without important nutrients you can develop deficiencies in every major organ system including (but not limited to) hair loss, tooth decay, numerous gastrointestinal issues, skin issues, kidney failure, bone density loss, etc.

We understand that body image issues tend not to come alone and are strongly associated with trauma, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and OCD. If body image issues are leading you to significant self harm, you must seek help immediately.

Why Do So Many People Struggle with Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues?

In the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men will meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder at some time in their lifetime. And in 2019, statistics revealed that 96% of women do not like or feel comfortable in their bodies. There is also significant evidence to suggest that poor body image perception is common throughout the LGBTQ community. 

Why is this?

Well for one, our society places a huge emphasis on weight. When you go to the grocery store as you are in the checkout line it’s almost a guarantee you will be surrounded by weight related messaging. “Brad Pitt’s secret green diet…”, “This middle-aged woman lost 80 pounds over the summer…”,”Eat this and not that!” It can seem impossible to not be influenced by that constant messaging. (Especially when you include billboards, tv and movies too)

Even when we eat with friends or family these messages can be emphasised. “Are you sure you want that?” “Maybe you should hold off on…”

At the core of all of this pressure, is the idea that being thin will make you happy, successful and popular. We can forget that many of the images we see in our media are digitally edited and not attainable standards. In short, attaining a certain body weight is like attaining a certain level of wealth, you can spend your entire life punishing yourself to get there, but when you do, you don’t find yourself that much happier at all.

We work to bust this pervasive “thinness is happiness” myth throughout our work with clients.

We can help with these common types of Eating Disorders, Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues

In general, you can consider your struggle an eating disorder or body image issue if you feel any of the following:

  • You are uncomfortable eating around others
  • Preoccupied with your food and body, weighing both excessively (at each meal for example)
  • Incredibly regimented diets (excluding all carbs with no exception, etc.)
  • Food rituals (e.g eats only a particular food or food group, excessive chewing and/or doesn’t allow foods to touch)
    • Food rituals (e.g eats only a particular food or food group, excessive chewing and/or doesn’t allow foods to touch)
    • Perfectionistic attitudes towards food
    • Increased mood swings
    • Purging and associated stomach problems or dehydration, dental problems 
    • Eating faster than normal or eating until uncomfortably full

    Or if you think:

    • “My body is disgusting and something to be hated”
    • “Life won’t be worth living if I gain another pound”
    • “I can’t be loved at my current size”

    Binge Eating 

    This is the most common of the eating disorders that we deal with. You may be binge eating if you are consuming large amounts of food quickly to the point of control. You may be routinely eating beyond the point of fullness, or eating when you are not hungry.

    The root causes of binge eating typically include trauma, stigma toward one’s weight and the myth of thinness. These causes can be made worse by our genetic predispositions, family attitudes and the general misinformation around what constitutes healthy dieting. We at Acuity think of binge eating as a cycle between our negative emotions towards food and our behavior, so we work to break that cycle.  

    Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): 

    ARFID is an eating disorder that is strongly associated with anxiety. Clients typically consider themselves “very picky eaters”, and typically have a very small amount of foods that they allow themselves to eat. Fears (akin to phobias) around the foods that they won’t eat are very common among these clients.

    Orthorexia: 

    Orthorexia is focused on the cleanliness of foods. Similar to AFRID, orthorexics have a severe aversion to the limited foods that they feel comfortable with. “Clean foods” can mean many things to many people but typically are organic, whole or raw.

    Body Dysmorphia

    Generally, body dysmorphia is when a client is focused on what they perceive as repugnant characteristics about themselves. It can lead to constant thinking about the features that they consider imperfect. In many cases these include: “the gut”, genitals, face, and muscle tone. At times concerns over body image can lead to obsession, sometimes leading clients to focus on altering the body part they find most distressing through surgery or other invasive interventions.

    Anorexia Nervosa 

    Contrary to how the media discusses anorexia, there is no specific weight that automatically makes someone “anorexic.” Instead, anorexia is diagnosed if you have strict restrictions on your food intake accompanied by unhealthy rates of weight loss and a strong fear towards weight gain.

    Some clients that suffer from anorexia focus on limiting their total caloric intake, while others find themselves binging (excessive and fast eating) and purging (vomiting, intense exercise, taking laxatives) around meals to “control their weight.” Like all eating disorders it varies based on the person.

    Bulimia Nervosa 

    Bulimia is dominated by binging and purging episodes. Meaning that most clients eat a large amount of food past “fullness” and binge after the meal. Typically, clients have severe shame and guilt during these episodes. In general, they have negative perceptions of the body.

    Night Eating Syndrome (NES): 

    Night eating is typically associated with sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep walking. Sufferers of NES find themselves eating mostly at night and at times losing sleep in order to eat. Typically these patients strongly believe that they need food in order to fall asleep.

    Body Image Issues in Young Adults

    While the roots of body image issues and eating disorders start during childhood, most people start seeking solutions as young adults. As a result, the largest number of people who come to us for therapy regarding these topics are in the 14-35 age group. Often with our younger clients we go over social media use, peer expectations and other challenges unique to young adults. You can read more about our work with young adults and children.

    Our Approach to Eating Disorders and Body Image

    Our approach to eating disorders is twofold. We work on underlying self esteem challenges and promote a health at any size philosophy for optimal mental health. This approach works well at treating eating disorders because it gets to the core beliefs that cause the destructive behavior.

    Body Image and Self Esteem

    First of all, we understand that at the core of most eating disorders are body image and self esteem issues. We work with our clients through some of these core beliefs that guide how they behave. Our values influence our thoughts and actions, so replacing hard-coded negative thoughts with positive ones takes serious commitment, but is an important step to recovery.

    Health At Any Size

    We are also one of the few centers in the area to embrace the mentality of “health at any size.” The truth is that the first step to be comfortable in your body isn’t to change it, but to accept it. A major obstacle to treating eating disorders is the body shame and secrecy that prevent a clear look at the issue. Once you come to terms with your shame, and can openly discuss your feelings towards yourself and food, and finally you can create a plan for the future that will be followed (and successful).

    Our therapy is best suited for those who are just starting on managing their eating concerns, or those who are looking to follow-up or maintain the progress they have gained previously.

    1. Acuity provides a comprehensive assessment to assess your body image and food related behaviors, and set goals to track your progress.

    2. You will meet with a therapist that is best suited to your concerns and strengths. The relationship that you build with your therapist here is important, so ask questions and get to know them as they get to know you. 

    3. In order to help you progress, we will use evidence based approaches for body image concerns including CBT, ACT and Mindfulness. For issues rooted in trauma we have therapists that specialize in helping clients heal from trauma.  

    4. If necessary we will connect you with or recommend someone in our network of relevant specialists that may help you in the Seattle area. These may include: family-based services, meal support, weight monitoring, dieticians, psychopharmacologists, treatment centers, etc. 

    We will connect you with more intensive in patient resources if your medical condition is severe or the frequency of your disorder has completely prevented you from participating in your day to day life.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Which therapist is right for you?

    Let us help you find the right therapist. Many of our therapists specialize in anxiety, so view our profiles online to learn more about specific counselors specializing in anxiety treatment or speak with our Client Care Coordinator, who can help you with a personalized match to the right therapist for your needs. 

    Finding the RIGHT therapist is the most important piece of reaching your goals.

    How long does Therapy take?

    Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.

    I’ve never done therapy before...What can I expect in my sessions?

    The unknown of anything new can make it scary. Especially if you’ve never been to counseling before. Let us show you the “roadmap” so you know what to expect:

    1st Session:
    This first meeting is an introduction for both you and your counselor. Your therapist will explain the therapy process and go over the specifics of informed consent. From there, your therapist will gather additional information about your history, current circumstances, as well as struggles and personal strengths, which will help them to define a treatment plan that aligns with your goals. 

    This is also the chance for you to learn more about your therapist. We encourage you to ask questions and get to know them; the relationship you build with your therapist will be the most important part of your work together. 

    2nd Session and Future sessions:
    In your weekly sessions, you and your therapist will use evidenced based therapies such as CBT, Mindfulness or ACT, to help you address your symptoms of worry, stress and anxiety. For anxiety rooted in trauma, or related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), your therapist may recommend treatment with EMDR.

    Closing Sessions:
    Our goal is for you to find relief from your anxiety and be ready to “graduate” from therapy. In the last few sessions with your therapist, you will review your initial goals, the progress you have made, and solidify your new skills for managing anxiety in your life. At your last meeting together, you’ll have the time for the meaningful goodbye with your therapist.

    How much does Counseling cost?

    We strive to create access to high quality mental healthcare for everyone. Our therapists’ rates vary by experience and specialized training. We will make every effort to find the right therapist for you. 

    Acuity Counseling also accepts health insurance and offers both in-network and out-of-network coverage. 

    We are in-network partners with: 

    Aetna

    Cigna

    First Choice

    Premera Blue Cross

    * We do not participate in EAP plans

    Why don’t you only use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

    While we use CBT as an aspect of our therapeutic approaches, we know that every individual is different. No one responds to any method perfectly, so by employing many techniques we are able to provide the most personalized support. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is talked about in relation to mental health so often because it has a large body of research behind it and is easy to replicate across all cases. This is why you may hear it called “evidence based,” which it certainly is. However, we use other evidence based therapies in conjunction with CBT in our therapies.

    How can I evaluate whether therapy is working?

    Acuity is unique because we use research backed questionnaires to assess your mood, goals and progress. From time to time we may share with you your progress on these reports, “you report being angry 30% less days than when you started therapy,” and then ask what your goals for the future may be. We have found that by having clients set their own goals and following up regularly we can achieve better results.

    Is medication used in conjunction with your therapy?

    Some conditions for some people are best treated with the help of medication. If we find it necessary after our initial assessments, we will discuss types of medication, your comfort with it, and the pros and cons of medication with you. If you so choose, we can refer you to the appropriate psychopharmacologist in the area. If you are already on medication, we will coordinate treatment with your primary provider.

    How long does therapy take?

    Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.

    Break-free and begin your journey to

    Your best
    YOU.

    There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.

    Acuity Counseling can help.

     

    Schedule your therapy session online

    Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:

    Online Counseling

    Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.

    GET STARTED

    If you have questions and would like to talk about any of our counseling services, please reach out for a complimentary phone consultation or send us an email.

    First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling

    We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.

    Seattle: 206-922-2376

    Bellevue: 425-549-3242

    Bothell/Woodinville: 206-910-9476

    info@acuitycounseling.net

    for Billing questions call:
    206-910-9476

     

    SCHEDULING

    Use our Online Scheduling Tool or call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.

    Schedule by phone: 206-910-9476

    INSURANCE

    Counseling services are often covered in full or in part by your health insurance company. Acuity Counseling proudly accepts most major health insurance plans.

    Aetna

    First Choice

    HMA

    Meritain

    Cigna

    GEHA

    Sound Health & Wellness

    We do not participate
    in EAP Plans

    Acuity Counseling Locations

    Seattle

    Bellevue

    Bothell/Woodinville

    BELLEVUE, WA
    Cascade Place II
    12729 Northup Way, Suite 6
    Bellevue WA 98005
    (206) 910-9476

    SEATTLE, WA
    Plaza 600 Building
    600 Stewart St, Suite 1228
    Seattle WA 98101
    (206) 910-9476

    BOTHELL/WOODINVILLE
    Falcon View
    12900 NE 180th St, Suite 160
    Bothell, WA 98011
    (206) 910-9476

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