Approaching eating disorder treatment and recovery holistically

For a lot of people recovering from an eating disorder, connecting with other sufferers is very important. They see that their fellows are struggling with the same kinds of issues, and the similarities show them that they’re not alone. As important as these commonalities are, it’s also true that everyone’s journey to recovery is unique.

After all, no two people are the same – so why would their recovery be? And if this is the case, then surely no two treatment plans should be identical? A holistic approach allows for these differences because it focuses on the healing aspects of a person and all areas of life. No matter where your issues lie, with a holistic treatment they will be addressed.

Defining holistic treatment and recovery

A holistic approach to dealing with eating disorders (EDs) is one that considers an individual’s psychological, physical, mental, spiritual and emotional state via a rehabilitation programme. A holistic treatment team will consist of several different professionals and could include counsellors, psychiatrists, nutritionists and dieticians.

Different types of treatment will also be involved, including trauma debriefing, schema therapy, group therapy and individual counselling. For a full list of the holistic treatments offered at Imani, have a look at our Holistic Therapies page. We know that patients with serious physical ailments do better with personalised drug combinations and ratios. In the same way, individuals with EDs respond to varying amounts of each kind of therapy.

Finally, this approach also looks at the positive and negative events and influences in an individual’s life. Your rehabilitation team will take your entire history into account. From your family of origin to where you went to college, all experiences shape who you are. That means they are all relevant to understanding you – both your overall psyche and the specifics of your eating disorder.

In short, holistic recovery and treatment look at the whole person, not just the disorder. And the end goal is about more than just the removal of the anorexic, bulimic, overeating or other ED symptoms. Ultimately, the aim is to restore a sense of purpose in and quality of life for those who suffer from this illness.

Levels of care in holistic treatment

The other important concept regarding holistic care is that it never really stops. As individuals progress in their journey of ED recovery, they need varying levels of attention. When you first start to work on getting better, you may need to go into a treatment centre to get intensive help.

Then, as you continue healing, you could return to work and attend regular outpatient support groups. At the same time, you could continue to see your therapist and psychiatrist. You might want to check in with your dietician every now and then or try various complementary rehabilitation techniques. Yoga, art therapy and meditation classes are just some of the auxiliary treatments you can try.

If you are going through a difficult time, you might choose to increase your level of daily care. Maybe you’ll go back onto a meal plan for a while, or see your psychologist more regularly. You might even choose to go back into treatment for a time, to help you prevent a relapse.

The point with holistic healing is that it is very flexible. You can adapt your recovery plan at any time, scaling it up or down as you need to. When you’re in a treatment centre, the team will tailor-make a holistic therapy plan to suit you. And when you leave and are managing your own recovery, you’ll be empowered to do the same.