Past and current diagnostic practice in the treatment of eating disorders proves of significant importance in regard to recovery.
At the same time however, this approach in isolation, challenges the very traits that are common to people who are experiencing an eating disorder (ED). The current gaps in treatment, relate to the management around these challenges. When managed by more flexible non-diagnostic measures such as counselling, the person with an ED is empowered to navigate the difficulties surrounding the treatment process in collaboration with their diagnostic process.
Genetic temperament traits, such as anxiety, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, harm or risk avoidance, sensitivity toward rejection or lack of impulse control, are at risk of being amplified by the pressure to comply with diagnostic protocols.
Feelings of imperfection and personal judgement, often fosters a sense of failure in the hypersensitive mind. The person will often comply as a result, rather than learn the recovery skills needed to continue the recovery process outside their treatment, which increases the likelihood of readmission and a belief that recovery is not possible for the person.
Research suggests that individuals view recovery as ‘a state of being’. They are aware that they want meaning, purpose, control of their own life, choices, self-management, and inclusion, but have limited knowledge on how to access it or where to start looking for it. Diagnostic practice on the other hand, holds “notions of ‘cure’“. This comes in the form of measurable outcomes achieved through pre-identified activities or practices.
These measures are instigated by health professionals and health services, leaving the individual lacking in the ability to nurture their view of recovery, as the mind that strives for perfection, follows the directive goal of the diagnostic process instead.
To increase awareness in professionals on what their diagnostic or non-diagnostic professional counterparts can bring to the recovery process is the key to filling these gaps. If all professionals were to consider interdependence around eating disorder recovery, with existing supports in respective areas; waiting lists, relapse, readmissions, recovery time and government and personal costs are likely to decrease, while ongoing and more permanent recovery of eating disorders is likely to increase.
Integrating Professionals for Optimal Treatment of Eating Disorders
This update was kindly provided by Natalie Wild, who presented at the 2017 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference.
Download the program for the 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference here.