Helpful actions by professionals

“What was the most helpful thing a treatment professional (i.e. therapist, medical doctor, or dietician) did to encourage your recovery?”

The answers to this question from our survey are listed below.

As with the responses about friends and family, some of the most frequent comments in this area focused on what professionals did NOT do, such as:

  • NOT pushing too fast, allowing for slow and steady change (10%)
  • NOT treating the person like a “sick person” (6%)

The actions and comments cited as most helpful from professionals were as follows:

  • Challenging ED thinking, being firm, not enabling (14%)
  • Teaching coping skills (12%)
  • Tailoring the treatment to the patient’s individual needs, individualized education (11%)
  • Validating the person’s emotions and experience, listening, demonstrating empathy and understanding (11%)
  • Unconditional and consistent patience and care (11%)
  • Being non-judgmental and demonstrating acceptance (10%)
  • Suggested more specific or more intensive treatment (8%)
  • Empowerment, placing responsibility for recovery into the patient’s own hands, trusting the person (8%)
  • Helping to identify the emotions and root causes behind the eating disorder (7%)
  • Providing reassurance and encouragement (7%)
  • Helping the person to develop their own identity, helping to find oneself (7%)
  • Putting things in perspective (5%)
  • Warning of potential consequences of ED, honest feedback, “tell it like it is” (5%)
  • Listening (4%)
  • Providing a balanced meal plan (4%)
  • Patience, stable support when needed (3%)
  • Addressed co-morbid conditions or disorders (2%)
  • Religious and spiritual support, focus on values (2%)

A total of seven percent of respondents reported having no helpful interactions with professionals.

Selected actual survey responses

“…I hated professionals who dismissed all my thoughts as sick, when I had spent so long thinking about where I stood or what I needed. Those who have helped me most have been able to tease out the distorted 5% and call me on that part and let me own the other 95%.”

>“The head of group therapy said there was a difference between a lapse, a relapse, and collapse.”

“It took years before I had a positive experience with my treatment team. My current treatment team has helped me SO much and honestly, all it took was them seeing me as a person and NOT a label. Treating me as an individual, recognizing and helping me see my strengths, the fact that they are GENUINE and have real compassion, knowing that they 100% believe in me and have full confidence in me.”

“Challenged me to give it up, just for 6 months, to see what effect it really was having on my life, and then, after 6 months, if I honestly believed my ed-ed behaviour was helping I could go back to that. (Although this was definitely NOT endorsed by family/hospital) From a teacher”

“My nutritionist helped me by taking things in baby steps and not trying to scare me into change. This made taking risks with my food less terrifying and empowered me.”

“Challenged why I was making the choices I was making and helped me understand the other options open to me to deal with my feelings.”

“Telling me that this is my recovery. That I can choose how to recover and not let someone else do the work for me.”

“Listened, understood, and responded, without judgment.  Didn’t make me censor myself. Didn’t push too hard or try to change my mind.  Instead validated that i could feel the way I felt and still try to do something differently.”

See more results from our survey:

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