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Bulimia Recovery is Linked to Family Therapy

Nov 5, 2007
Family and home therapy are probably two of the most important aspects in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. Recovery for the sufferer will happen at home, over time, and living alongside parents, siblings and other family members.

There is a simple reason for this; it is because people under treatment with counselors only spend around 45 minutes a week on average with their therapist or doctor. For the rest of the time people live at home and recovery must take place there living amongst other family members.

In the past few weeks there has been a mountain of scientific proof saying the best way to recovery quickly from an eating disorder is to get help from the other members of the family in a concerted effort by all concerned. A study recently by the University of Chicago conducted by Dr. Daniel le Grange and his team, showed that family therapy is much more effective than traditional solo psychotherapy in helping young people battle with bulimia.

Whereas other bulimia therapy methods where the family was not involve in the treatment process, showed a much higher failure rate in long term improvement. People generally relapse at home after attending clinics and therapist in a matter of weeks sometimes months. And the reason for it is normally just a lack of correct family support and help.

Family therapy or recovery at home must include certain things.

One is attending the clinics as a family together with a sufferer. This makes the sufferer think that she/he is not alone and they do not need to lead a secret life. This relieves the sufferer's burden enormously as it takes a lot of stress away.

Secondly, it is important to be close to the sufferer to give mental and emotional support. This helps the family support her/him when they have emotional ups and downs and stops the chance of them slipping back to their bulimic habits again and again as an escape or coping mechanism for their fragile emotions.

The third way is to educate yourself and the family about eating disorders, recognize that an eating disorder is not about food, but about the feelings and the emotions of the sufferer. This will give the family as a whole an opportunity to influence the way she/he thinks and sees themselves as a person and help them to improve their self-esteem, change their associations with food and help them find a meaning to their lives (different from what the bulimia gives to them).

The family should always remember that bulimics as well as binge eaters are extremely vulnerable and sensitive people. After all their bulimia is only a symptom of much deeper emotional problems.

If the family goes from the point of pure love, understanding and exercises an non-judgmental approach to the sufferer, this will assure the person's recovery from bulimia and make them stay away from slipping back into their bulimia long term, even permanently in most cases.

But if family does nothing, it can force the sufferer to turn away from the family where they may decide that recovery is just too hard and stay where they are in misery and pain. This way will never do the sufferer any good or the family either.
If the family is not a part of the solution, then the family is in danger of being a part of the problem.

To conclude, the family is the first and most important people to help and who have a real chance to keep the bulimic on the road to recovery. If you are a mother, a father, a sibling, a husband or a lover of a person who has bulimia; then you are in a unique position to help the person and you can provide probably the best help for the sufferer in their endeavors to recover.

If you do not know how to talk to them about the problem or how to provide the best help you possibly can provide, you should start by educating yourself on how to do this. Reading books, participating in educational programs, attending special seminars and talking to experienced people are a great way to learn. Your knowledge about family support could become crucial in the recovery process of your loved one.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program which covers different areas of Women Health. She is a recognized authority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. learn more about eating disorders at http://www.mom-please-help.com
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