At the heart of psychoanalytic psychotherapy eating disorder treatment is the understanding that relationships play an essential part in our development and well-being.
When there are problems within important relationships, for example during childhood, this can lead to severe distress. For some people, the expression of distress can take the form of an eating disorder.
Psychotherapy aims to provide a safe place for the individual to reflect on his or her experiences and through this understanding, make choices and affect long term changes. Treatment is rarely straightforward and each person is considered individually in terms of their own history and narrative.
Research has shown that the relationship with the psychotherapist is particularly important for this type of therapy to work and affect change. Dr Rebecca Trikić is the chartered counselling psychologist for Newbridge House.
Why is psychotherapy helpful in the treatment of eating disorders?
Anorexia and bulimia are challenging to treat and if the root cause is not understood and addressed, individuals may change their behaviour in the short term but find that they return to their eating disorder as a behavioural coping mechanism as it still serves a function for their emotional wellbeing.
Psychotherapy treats the eating disorder as a symptom and seeks to understand the underlying cause.
Does everyone have psychotherapy at Newbridge House?
Everyone is offered one-to-one therapy sessions, but there is a choice of approach. Young people within our inpatient programme are allocated either psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The two approaches are distinct and well-established in the treatment of eating disorders. Sometimes, patients may express a personal preference and this can normally be accommodated. The initial assessment process is important and by working closely as an integrated multi-disciplinary team, we will recommend the most suitable treatment.
Psychotherapy may be chosen if:
- There is underlying trauma or significant emotional distress.
- The young person has problems engaging in relationships.
- The young person is aged 14 or above.
- There is interest in causation and capacity to work with the therapist.
Cognitive behavioural therapy can be better suited to some patients if:
- The engagement with the therapist is shorter (less than three months).
- The young person likes a system and task based approach.
- They have difficulty talking about relationship dynamics.
- CBT requires participants to record in detail their thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards food; this may work well for some and less so for others.
All of our inpatients undertake a programme of cognitive behavioural therapy or psychoanalytic psychotherapy, depending on which approach best suits their needs. We also offer both forms of therapy with our specialists Dr Matt Hutt and Dr Rebecca Trikic as part of our outpatient service, which is available to adults as well as young people.