One of the most difficult challenges our patients face as they work through their eating disorders is accepting their bodies and learning to love themselves for who they are. Acceptance of one’s body image is typically one of the last areas to change with our clients since it is such a difficult shift in perceiving themselves. We approach this body image issue through several different treatment modalities and tailor the treatment to what each client needs individually.
One way we perform an intervention is our shopping challenge. Whether you struggle with an eating disorder or not, shopping can present a unique challenge for women who may be struggling to have a positive body image. This can be a very stressful experience for our patients, especially while shopping for bathing suits. Ultimately, we must be able to gauge where our clients are on their journey to recovery. Premature interventions such as shopping could be destabilizing to someone who is not ready for that experience. Our case managers work closely with each patient to ensure they’re ready for this kind of intervention.
So why does being placed in this higher stress situation help? Our case managers are able to experience, support, and work through fears with our patients as they experience these that are associated with shopping.
Our case managers report seeing the following during these interventions:
1. Distressing perception of size is and how their body looks in the mirrors or clothing
2. Overvaluation of size or external features as a way to define themselves
3. A focus on numbers
4. Shifts in the patient’s ability to actually see themselves as a whole person (which is our goal)
How We Support Our Patients During This Intervention
When choosing clothing, we encourage our patients to choose several different sizes. Many patients believe they should not be above a certain size and would never try different sizes on their own. As they’re encouraged to try on different sizes, they’re often surprised and relieved to find they fit a variety of sizes. This is because every brand/store makes sizing and fit differently. This essentially helps our patient remove the roadblock they have about their body regarding specific “numbers” they think they need to fit in. We also encourage patients to feel how their clothes fit before looking at how they fit in the mirror. This helps them focus on how clothes make them feel, rather than focusing on simply the way they look.
Here, at Avalon Hills, we understand the unique challenges those with eating disorders encounter. We successfully treat and aid our patients in pursuing recovery each day. We are here to help if you or a loved one needs more support than you currently have.
*Due to COVID-19, we have temporarily altered shopping interventions to keep our patients safe. These will resume when deemed appropriate for our location.