Group Therapy for Anorexics
Group therapy, when the individual is ready, can be an important source for peer support. Goals of group therapy typically include the following:
(1) exploring underlying emotional conflicts that may be expressed by eating behaviors,
(2) sharing problem solving and effective coping strategies,
(3) developing realistic weight goals and a healthy relationship with food, and
(4) improving interpersonal communications. These groups often focus on exploring the roots and influences of negative body image on the individual and work towards body acceptance.
Group therapy can be a useful treatment for anorexia.
Group therapy can be a good forum to educate patients on important topics that may not be addressed elsewhere, such as nutrition, medical consequences of self starvation, or assertiveness techniques. Educating patients in group saves individual therapy time for more personalized and deeper issues. Group members also educate each other from their varied experiences in identifying and solving problems. Each group session can be educational, psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, or a mixture of all three.
By sharing with and listening to others, patients learn that they are not alone in their suffering, their feelings, and their experience of having an eating disorder. Even though individual stories vary and patients are all unique, a camaraderie exists among people who are suffering from eating disorders. It can enhance a person's self-esteem just to realize that she/he is neither crazy nor alone.
One shares the pain and the promise in group. Group therapy is frequently a useful treatment method for eating disorders. Groups for anorexics are challenging in that anorexics tend to be more rigid, withdrawn and anxious and have more difficulty expressing and identifying feelings. However many anorexics have had valuable group experiences that I have held and I have helped them overcome these obstacles.
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