Adult Eating Disorders

Adults affected by trauma are more likely to have eating disorders than those without trauma. Trauma can be caused by a single catastrophic event or it can be the accumulation of many small, traumatic events.

Some causes of shock include:

  • sexual or physical abuse
  • war conditions
  • Moving
  • family conflict
  • divorce
  • The death of a family member
  • Highly controlled family life
  • neglect
  • Suffering from childhood illness
  • Addiction or illness of a family member
  • Suicide or murder of a family member
  • watching violence
  • subjected to cruel treatment
  • Eating disorders as an unhealthy coping mechanism

When a trauma occurs, the brain does not process the event properly. The trauma is buried in the unconscious mind and can occur again in the present. Eating disorder behaviors can begin as a way to avoid thoughts and feelings of a past traumatic event.

Disturbed eating thoughts and behaviors can be used to suppress unwanted emotions, deal with stress, and use them as a way of coping with life. These coping behaviors can become a difficult habit to break. Over time, the behavior is used to everything and the eating disorder begins.

Advantages of EMDR Therapy

One advantage of using EMDR therapy is that the client does not need to re-shock by showing every detail of the trauma. EMDR therapy creates a learning state that allows these experiences to be appropriately stored in your brain.

Terms of Participation in EMDR Therapy

There are four conditions that must be met before using EMDR with a client with an eating disorder:

The first and most important step is to make sure that the therapist has been trained in the EMDR therapy process and that they adhere to the protocol.

Medical stability is a must. The brain must also get proper nutrition in order to be able to function effectively for this process.

The client must have a support structure around them. This could be a network of friends, family, religious people, or support groups.

The client needs to be able to get to a peaceful, quiet and safe place to go on their mind during the process and whenever they feel overwhelmed. This provides a tool to help them tolerate any painful feeling and provides them with a way to “discourage” them.

It is important to understand that some people with eating disorders are not candidates for EMDR therapy. PTSD and eating disorder clients share the same symptoms of not knowing what they are feeling and have high rates of dissociation.

How do EMDR Therapy sessions work?

EMDR therapy sessions are not scary. At first, the therapist will take a lot of history and tell you all about the process. You will be asked about your current symptoms and the desired outcome of the operation. Next, you’ll tie an anchor to your safe place. Then you will discover the irrational beliefs you may be harboring.

The EMDR therapist will use an object, a light pad, or their fingers to help direct your eyes left and right several times. If this is uncomfortable, the EMDR therapist may use headphones so that there are alternating sounds in each ear.

Tapping is another method that can be used. The therapist will periodically ask a question and the process continues. You will be asked to rate your feelings about a situation on the scale of 1 to 10. You will be asked if you notice any physical sensations and how true a statement is on a scale of 1 to 7. You will gradually notice that the numbers on the scales change.

  • Personality Disorders

    Disruptive patterns in mood, behavior, communication with others, and thinking in general can cause significant stress and inability to function.
  • Adult Eating Disorders

    Adult eating disorders are typically triggered by past trauma deriving from a single event or the accumulation of many small traumatic events.
  • Obsessive Compulsive & Related Disorders

    Characterized by patters of unwanted fears and thoughts that lead to repetitive behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder interfere heavily with daily activities.
  • Somatic Symptom Disorder

    The manifestation of physical symptoms due to mental trauma or illness is a serious matter. This includes the development of chronic pain leading to excessive levels of distress.
  • Social Communication Disorder

    Social communication disorders affect a large number of people today and can be as simple as difficulties in managing eye contact, facial expressions and body language.
  • Internet Gaming Disorder

    Many underlying issues can contribute to internet addiction and gaming disorders, and identifying the underlying issues is the first step in addressing the disorder.
  • Adult Sleep-Wake Disorders

    Issues with sleep are one of the most common clinical problems we face, and can greatly affect the overall health, safety, and quality of life.
  • Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Typical symptoms blamed on autism such as avoidance, hyper vigilance and reduced cognitive ability can also be hallmarks of chronic stress reactions to past trauma.
  • Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

    EMDR Therapy is appropriate for adults wishing to treat Adult ADHD - the therapy is a treatment that helps you change your behavior by changing your troubling thought processes.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) & Mental Health Service Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee

As a licensed Mental Health Services Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee, I work with a variety of adult patients currently experiencing mental health issues. For most clients, I typically recommend both traditional therapies as well as innovative treatment methods like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing. This type of treatment for mental health issues is safe, very effective and can change your life. 

Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP

Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP

Licensed in Tennessee

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Services Provider & EMDR Therapist offering virtual telemedicine appointments throughout all of Tennessee.

Ask me about my experience & how I can help you address the challenges you are facing. Call me or text me at 615.330.2659.