COMPULSIVE OVEREATING:
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR NOW WHEN THERAPY DIDN'T HELP BEFORE?

by Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C

So you are really searching for information now. You are checking out self help manuals, exploring affirmations, reading the symptoms of eating disorders, scaring yourself with medical information on the consequences of obesity and starvation, lurking on eating disorder discussion lists, perhaps writing notes and information requests to online authors and psychotherapists.

But you don't know what's right for you. You were in therapy before. You didn't like it. The therapists wanted to take your food away from you. They focused on your food and your weight. Or, they never talked about food or your weight. Or there was some other genuine reason why you found the psychotherapy unsatisfactory.

Getting out must have been both a relief and a great disappointment at the same time. And now, with some passing of time, you are looking for some kind of help again.

Congratulations on moving forward in your search. You are motivated to really get yourself on the healing path.

It's possible that you have gone into therapy in the past where you worked, made some gains and resolved some issues to a certain degree because that's as far as you could or needed to go at the time. Perhaps it was a limitation of the therapist. Perhaps it was a plateau in life where you needed live your life at that level of awareness for a number of years.

When you are ready again, and unfortunately most of the time readiness is indicated by pain of some kind, you go into therapy once more, moving toward yet another level of awareness and healing.

If your compulsive eating is worse than ever you are most likely defending against something that is rising up in your unconscious unresolved and raw. As I believe you have probably come to understand, identifying issues is not the same as truly resolving them.

Often we partially resolve issues. That is somewhat satisfactory until something directly challenges our integrity and core identity. We reach inside ourselves and cannot find focussed inner strength to meet the occasion. Partial resolutions often cannot support or empower us enough to deal with some of life's challenges.

In your new search for help you are heading for a new level of awareness. You may be ready to work with someone in private psychotherapy to penetrate and resolve your unfinished business.

Just because you worked with someone before doesn't mean you will be walking into the same or a similar experience. You have learned and grown since your last experience in psychotherapy. You are not the same. Your perceptions are not the same. Your ability to hear and feel is not the same. And your motivation to heal what needs healing is stronger than ever.

You may ask, "Why can't I just use written information, self help programs and e-mail lists for recovery?" Many of those resources are quite wonderful and provide information and support in helpful and useful ways.

However, you may be up against something that you (and other compulsive overeaters) cannot deal with alone. This is not a failure. This is just plain the way it is. Going for help when you need it, recognizing you need help, researching to find the best help you can, is active, industrious, courageous and a positive method for actually getting the help you need.

Having the steady, reliable and understanding presence of a caring and competent psychotherapist can be nourishing and healing company for you in your struggle for freedom. You can learn that you can choose someone and place them in your life as reliable, caring, support and companionship on your journey to health. And that in itself, is part of your healing.

Give yourself credit for knowing what you need and continue on your healing path.

10/11/98

Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C., licensed by the State of California in 1980, is a Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (License #15563). She has a private practice in Los Angeles where she works with adult individuals and couples. She specializes in working with people with eating disorders and with people who are trying to understand and help a loved on who has an eating disorder.

Contact Information:
10573 West Pico Blvd. Suite 20
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 474-4165 phone
(310) 474-7248 fax

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