How We Treat Eating Disorders at Johns Hopkins Medicine
How to Join an Eating Disorder Support Group
Eating disorders are serious conditions where eating behaviors negatively impact your emotions, your health, and your ability to perform daily life functions. The most common eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.One of the best treatments for eating disorders is to join support groups. If you are ready to start this part of treatment, you can find ways to join a support group.
Picking the Right Support Group
See a therapist for help finding a group.Group support comes in several different types, and not all types are suitable for everyone. To choose the right type of group support for you, you may want to see a therapist first. Working with a therapist one-on-one is also a helpful way to recover from an eating disorder.
Try a self-help group.There are a few different types of support groups that you can attend. One option is a self-help group. In this type of group, fellow members of the group are the ones who run and organize the group. This means that people who have a history of eating disorders run the support group.
- These types of groups are helpful because the managers of the sessions know exactly what you are going through.
- These may also be called fellowship groups, mutual help groups, or peer support groups.
Consider a professionally operated group.The other major type of eating disorder support group is the professionally operated group. These are led, managed, and controlled by mental health professionals who have been trained to work with patients with eating disorders.
- These may be run through institutions, such as hospitals or treatment centers.
- Typical professionals that run these types of groups are licensed therapists, social workers, or psychologists.
Decide between an open and closed group.There are two different categories of membership that your support group may use. The type of group you attend depends on your comfort level with others or the types of people you want in your support group. The two types are:
- An open support group, where anyone can attend the group without meeting specific criteria.
- A closed support group, where the group members must meet a specific criteria, such as type of disorder or level of activity in the group.
Find one in your area.The best way to get the most out of a support group is to make sure that you can attend the meetings frequently. This is easiest if you find a support group in your area as close to your home as possible. This means that you need to look in your city for a local support group.
- You can also ask around at your local hospital or treatment facility for an eating disorder support group.
- There are some that help your find the type of support group you want in your area.
Make sure you are ready for a support group.Before you attend a support group, you need to make sure you are ready for one. There is a specific point in your treatment that you should look to support groups for help. This will be different for every person, but you shouldn't force yourself into this type of treatment until you are ready.
- You can work with your therapist or doctor to determine when you're ready for this part of your treatment plan.
Getting the Most from Your Support Group
Attend support group meetings regularly.When you have an eating disorder, you may start to isolate yourself from others. Joining a support group and going to meetings on a regular basis will help you get out of your comfort zone and be less isolated from others. An eating disorder support group is full of people who understand what you are going through, so you will feel less alone in your recovery.
- Your isolation may be caused by shame about your disorder, guilt about what you do as part of your disorder, or protectiveness of the habits associated with your disorder. Work past these issues in order to help with your recovery.
Listen to what other people have to say.Going to a support group will help you learn to listen to others. This will help you move beyond your own disorder and learn to connect to others. You will also learn how to better communicate with those around you because you will connect with them during every session. You can also learn from other's experiences, which will help you in your own recovery.
Get to know people at your support group meetings.Many people with eating disorders suffer from social anxiety disorders as well. Going to a support group will help you socialize more with others, but in a safe, supportive environment. This will help you face your socialization fears in a way that is less scary than out in the world. These situations will also help you become more confident in your self-worth as a person as you start connecting more to others.
- Try to hang around for a while after every meeting. Introduce yourself to people you have not met before and catch up with people you have already met. Ask how other people are doing and be honest about anything that is bothering you.
- If you also have social anxiety, then being around people can be a challenge. You may need to work with your therapist to develop ways of handling your anxiety and feeling more comfortable around people.
Continue other treatment plans.Joining a support group is only one part of a successful treatment plan for eating disorders. You will also likely be working with a therapist in solo sessions to help you work through the issues that led to your disorder. You may also be receiving medical care that will help you move past your disorder, such as medicine or other medical treatments.
- It is important that you continue all forms of treatment in order to get better.
Picking Additional Forms of Group Therapy
Try group cognitive behavioral therapy.There are a few different types of group therapy that you can try in addition or instead of a support group. Group cognitive behavioral therapy in similar to the personal kind, but you work with others who are also suffering from eating disorders.
- In these sessions, you work with a therapist and the other members of the group to address your behaviors and feelings connected to your disorder, relearn healthy eating patterns, and learn management skills for your symptoms.
- This is like a mixture of two different types of treatment.
Consider family based therapy.Family based therapy is a group therapy session with members of your family. In these sessions, your family learns help you achieve a healthy weight and restore healthy eating patterns. This type of therapy can be extremely helpful for teens working with their parents to get better.
Take part in online support groups.If you are not comfortable meeting with a group in person, you can attend online support groups for eating disorders. These can be helpful if you don’t live near any support group meetings. They can also be helpful if you feel uncomfortable around other people talking about your disorder. Just keep in mind that online support groups should be a complement to therapy or other professional treatments rather than a substitute for these treatments.
- These types of meetings can be video meetings, online chats, posts in chat rooms, or other similar electronic meetings.
- There are many groups that are free, but some do cost money. These groups can also be open or closed groups. The closed groups require membership from the institution that hosts the session.
Video: How To Help Someone With An Eating Disorder
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