Trauma can be caused by any overwhelming experience in childhood, adolescence or adulthood that is too overwhelming and difficult to integrate or make meaning. Although there is a large incidence of child sexual abuse such that one in three eating disorder clients have unresolved sexual abuse, there are also a large number of other traumas commonly associated with eating disorder. For example, when childhood bonding with caretakers has been problematic or when painful experiences in school with peers or dating were traumatic. Our therapists are trained in the latest trauma techniques for trauma stabilization and resolution, a requisite before the symptom can remit.
Clients who have suffered for years from anxiety or distressing memories, nightmares, insomnia, abuse or other traumatic incidents can often gain relief from a revolutionary therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). Research shows that EMDR is safe and effective for trauma resolution. EMDR does not involve the use of drugs or hypnosis. It is a simple, non-invasive patient-therapist collaboration that can be highly effective for a wide range of disorders, including chronic pain, depression, panic attacks, and other issues.
The constant availability of a caretaker in infancy and childhood to provide safety, a healthy exploration of the environment, and help to learn to regulate emotions effectively results in secure attachment. The result of secure attachment is a person’s sense of security, a sense that the world is a safe place that one can rely on others for protection and support, and one can feel effective in exploring and operating in their environment. The result is a sense of both self-identity and esteem. Very few eating disorder clients have secure attachment or a solid sense of identity and feel confident in establishing adult relationships. EDCMO has developed a unique program to increase secure attachments, which is critical for long-term symptom remission.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is a powerful tool in working with eating disorder clients. Its founder, Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., has trained the staff and is a staff member of our sister treatment center Castlewood Treatment center. The cornerstone of IFS is to facilitate self-leadership and integration of “parts of self” that may become fragmented, split off and polarized within an individual. One part of a person may both want to give up the eating disorder and another part may want to not give it up; or in another instance, one part may feel fat, while another part knows the person is starving. IFS allows for working with such parts of self to facilitate integration.