What is Group Therapy?

People talking in a group setting

A holistic treatment approach for eating disorders is beneficial because eating disorders are multifaceted illnesses affecting the brain and body. Group therapy is an approach that can be extremely helpful to individuals struggling with eating disorders, alongside other treatment services such as medical management, nutrition counseling, individual therapy, and therapeutic meals. Through the process of sharing eating disorder experiences with a group that can relate, group therapy can foster community building, self-understanding, and healing.

What Exactly is Group Therapy?

Group therapy sessions are run by a licensed professional in a group setting. Groups typically range from 5-10 individuals and take place on a regular basis. During group therapy, a licensed therapist will guide the group through a topic and allow space for the group to share stories and process emotions together.

The Emily Program believes that group therapy can be an important part of recovery from an eating disorder because it provides a safe, judgment-free space for individuals to process thoughts and behaviors related to the disorder. By holding a therapy session with individuals struggling from similar illnesses, participants can find community and support while unraveling their illnesses in an understanding group.

The Emily Program’s founder Dirk Miller often says that eating disorders may be confusing to the individual afflicted but that they aren’t so confusing to others. This idea that eating disorders are understandable to others who have suffered is a key reason why group therapy is a helpful part of treatment. The perspective of others can offer many therapeutic benefits and can assist in skills-building and healing.

What Groups Does The Emily Program Offer?

The Emily Program offers a wide variety of groups to meet the needs of each individual in treatment. Some examples of group The Emily Program offers are below.

Compulsive Overeating (COE) Recovery 

This group supports clients who are working toward a healthy relationship with food. We provide tools and support through process therapy and create a safe place to address eating, activity, and general emotional growth.

Improving Body Image 

This group uses The Body Image Workbook created by Thomas F. Cash, Ph.D., a research professor at Old Dominion University who specializes in the study and treatment of body image problems. This group explores topics that include: identifying the origins of body image stories, awareness of body self-talk, and taking steps toward creating a better body image. Participation in the group includes group and individual activities, handouts, homework assignments, and recommended readings related to body image issues.

LGBTQI Sensitive Eating Disorder Recovery

This group provides a safe, nonjudgmental place for adults who have eating disorders and who also identify along a non-heteronormative sexual or sexual-identity spectrum to process and receive support for issues related to their eating disorder and sexuality/sexual identity. In this group, clients receive help to develop skills and tools to address their eating disorder symptoms, explore how their eating disorder impacts their relationships and daily life, and increase body awareness and connectedness.

Rising Strong

This group is based on the research of Brené Brown. Throughout this curriculum-based, 12-week group we explore the topics of vulnerability, courage, shame, perfectionism, and worthiness. Group members will participate in didactic and experiential activities that can assist them in moving toward more authentic and wholehearted living particularly surrounding their relationship with their emotions.

Therapeutic Meals

This is an opportunity for outpatient clients, especially those stepping down from intensive programming, to take part in an experiential meal twice a week. Clients are encouraged to be intentional in exploring and challenging their ED thoughts and behaviors with brown bag meals. Group is open to all diagnoses and clients may attend once or twice per week. The group consists only of the meal and will not have an additional process or check-in time, so we require that clients are meeting consistently with an individual therapist.

Groups are part of programming at The Emily Program. To participate in the groups listed above, individuals should speak with their individual therapist and share that they are interested in participating. A list of adult outpatient groups and locations can be found here. For groups that are free and open to the public, individuals can attend our ED 101 sessions or our Recovery Nights.

ED 101: Understanding Eating Disorders, Treatment, and Recovery

This monthly session is free and open to friends, family, and support people who want to gain a basic understanding of eating disorders, treatment, and recovery. Before you can help your loved one you’ll need to build a foundation of knowledge about eating disorders, the impact they have on families, and the language you’ll need to effectively communicate throughout the recovery process. Our knowledgeable staff provides answers to common questions and concerns of families and friends “new” to eating disorders, and you’ll leave with valuable resources.

Recovery Nights

Clients and their friends and family are invited to hear speakers share stories of hope and success on their road to recovery from eating disorders. Speakers include former clients, support people, and community members.

If you are interested in learning more about The Emily Program or starting treatment, call us at 1-888-364-5977 or visit us online.

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