July 2016 - Monthly News & Tips
IN THIS ISSUE
"The Emily Program did not give me my life back. It has given me the life I deserve, the one I never had until now." - An Emily Program client
One of the issues that makes identifying eating disorders so difficult is our cultural fixation on obesity. The “obesity epidemic” has been talked about for a decade or more and is seen as an accepted fact by many people. Schools monitor for it, parents are inundated with information about it, and pediatricians are constantly receiving literature, education and expectations regarding children and their weight.
Parents are often left to wonder: How do I know what is considered “healthy eating” for my child and am I causing my child to become overweight?
A problem with this is that there is little hard science about parents and how they feed their teens. However, what we do know does not suggest that parents should be blamed for how their teenagers eat. One of the sad things is a child that is 20 pounds underweight may be at a great risk of immediate and life-threatening issues, while a child that is 20 pounds overweight is not. Does that mean we should ignore the child that is 20 pounds overweight? Of course not. But, does it mean that our focus is misplaced in labeling the overweight child as ill and the underweight child as doing well? Almost certainly.
Children and families receive all sorts of confusing messages about eating. They swim in the ocean of messages about how and what to eat, as well as what to look like and what not to look like. The point is they very much understand the stigma of being overweight. Children and families generally know what they want to eat, what foods they like and what makes them feel good, yet socioeconomic , cultural and other pressures impact what and how they actually eat.
Is there data that supports a parent restricting their child’s intake can lead to long-term better health? Actually, there is very little. Is there data that restricting a child’s intake can produce significant health problems and potentially cause behaviors, including binging? There may be.
While not wanting to ignore the realities of obesity and its dangers, we err too often in ignoring the risks of restriction, binging, purging and over-exercise in teens. There are more kids with eating disorders than juvenile onset diabetes. Both are life-threatening. Both deserve equal concern and attention from all.
Mark Warren, MD
Chief Medical Officer, The Emily Program
About 50 percent of teenage girls and 30 percent of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives to control their weight.
What’s more, about 25 percent of college-aged women engage in binging and purging as a method of managing their weight, according to the Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders.
Ignoring unhealthy habits can be hazardous. Significant mental and physical consequences may occur with extreme or unhealthy dieting practices. In addition, extreme dieting is associated with other health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and nutritional and metabolic problems.
Brandy Gillihan, MA, LMHCA, group therapist, South Sound, WA location
Brandy Gillihan joined The Emily Program last July as a group therapist. She was excited to work with site director Stacy Schilter Pisano, a respected eating disorder specialist in the Olympia area, to further her knowledge base in the field.
Today, Brandy spends the majority of her days leading therapy groups, where she works closely with clients to help them build skillful behaviors to implement in their everyday lives, instead of turning to eating disorder-driven ones. In addition, she helps clients focus on self-compassion and moving toward their own meaningful, valued direction.
“I find that when we help clients be in touch with what and who they want to stand for in their lives, they are more willing to face their painful feelings,” she said. Brandy earned a master’s degree in health psychology, focusing on mind-body interventions and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), from Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA.
Learn more about Brandy and why we think she stands out!
TEP: What's the most common concern you hear from clients?
Brandy: I hear clients say most commonly that their negative behaviors are inevitable because of their eating disorder-related thoughts, feelings and urges. In ACT, we work very hard to unlink thoughts and feelings with behavior. Yes, they can influence our behavior, but they don’t have to run the show. We work on various acceptance and diffusion strategies to help clients make room for positive thoughts and feelings, and create distance from the negative ones, so that they can choose their behavior freely.
TEP: How do you motivate shy or uninterested clients?
Brandy: I use silence, at times. I gently reflect what I notice and use encouragers. I use therapeutic self-disclosure (as appropriate) because if clients can be reminded that even therapists have painful thoughts and feelings, they can realize that pain is part of the shared human experience.
TEP: Any fun trips planned for this summer?
Brandy: Camping! My 5-year-old has never gone, so we have promised a camping trip.
In St. Paul, MN:
Tuesday, July 12: Begins at 6:30 p.m. at 2265 Como Avenue • St. Paul, MN 55108
In Cleveland, OH:
Thursday, Oct 13: Begins at 6:00 p.m. at 25550 Chagrin Blvd., Suite 200 • Beachwood, OH 44122
In Seattle, WA:
Wednesday, July 20: Begins at 6:00 p.m. at 1700 Westlake Avenue North, Suite 700 • Seattle, WA 98109
View all 2016 Recovery Nights in Ohio, Washington, and Minnesota.
In Case You Missed It: Highlights from the Blog
Once you choose hope, anything is possible. -Christopher Reeve