A service I offer to all potential clients is a 15-minute phone consultation. It's a great chance for me to find out what a person is looking for in regards to therapy, but more importantly, it's an opportunity for you to get to know me and my counseling style and decide if I'm someone you would like to work with.
Most of the people who reach out to me are women who are struggling with eating disorders, since that"s my specialty. Often, this phone consultation is the first time that they have said, "I have an eating disorder" out loud. Also, most of the time, one of the first questions I am asked is some variation of, "How long is this going to take"?
It seems to me that this question can have a few different underlying meanings, such as...
Am I fixable?
Am I ever going to get over this or am I a lost cause? Fighting an eating disorder is exhausting, and by the time it gets to the point where a person is seeking out professional help, it can feel like there is nothing left but the eating disorder.
When someone speaks to me from this place of exhaustion and hopelessness, I find it"s helpful to call on that part of her/him that reached out for help. It"s that part that is doing the hard, but not impossible, work of fighting against the eating disorder.
Sometimes the client didn"t reach out to me. Maybe it"s a parent who is calling on behalf of a teenager, and mom or dad wants to know if their daughter will ever get over this. I let these parents know that a healthy support system is key to recovery. I explain that getting professional help from a team, trained in eating disorders, and being assessed for the appropriate level of care early on, are also important for recovery. I also remind these parents that although it seems like their daughter has been swallowed up by this eating disorder, she is still in there, and in therapy they will all learn to focus on that healthy part.
The honest answer is, I don"t know if any one person is going to be able to gain full recovery from her/his eating disorder. What I do know is that no one is a lost cause, and everyone deserves full recovery.