By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
Why is it important for clients with eating disorders to see a specialist therapist vs. a generalist?
Eating disorders are the second deadliest mental illness, so the consequences of not receiving specialized treatment can be dire. They are highly treatable, however in order to effectively treat clients with eating disorders, therapists must have specialized training. This training is not typically offered in graduate school and is something therapists have to seek out on their own.
Additionally, we are all raised in diet culture and in a society that is steeped in systems of oppression. It's
critical that therapists have done their own work around this in order to treat folks with eating disorders.
Think of it this way, you wouldn't see a primary care physician for brain surgery. And someone could be an excellent primary care doctor with no knowledge of how to do brain surgery.
A personal story
When I was first struggling with an eating disorder, I was seeing a generalist therapist. He was a great therapist but had no knowledge of eating disorders. He seemed perplexed as to why I was crying in his office about a weekend away where i'd have no control over the food asking me "is this about something deeper?" He didn't seem to get that I was hysterical about the food and while of course this masked deeper issues-I was in the beginning stages of an eating disorders.
When I switched to an eating disorder therapist, recovery coach and dietitian, it was like a breath of fresh air. I felt understood in a way that I hadn't before and they were trained in how to talk to me and how to effectively help me. Had I never sought specialized help, i'm not sure that I would have gotten better.
My own journey is why I founded The Eating Disorder Center and am so passionate about providing specialized eating disorder therapy. Eating disorders are treatable and folks deserve specialized support and recovery.
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The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.