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Christian counselling for an eating disorder

answered 11:59 PM EST, Thu October 06, 2011
How would a Christian counselor deal with a teenager girl who has an eating disorder, anorexia? She is enrolled in a hospital outpatient program in Miami but I am concerned that she is not making as much headway as she needs to and I am not sure if she has the strength to overcome this disease on her own. Our pastor has spoken to her on several occasions but we were thinking that she might benefit from sitting down with someone with more training on a more regular basis.

Penny Bell Says...

Penny Bell P. Bell
Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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I can understand that it is very difficult for you to stand by and watch whilst your daughter (I'm assuming from what you've said that this is your daughter you're concerned about) battles anorexia.  It would be a very frustrating and anxious time for you, I would imagine.  However your daughter is on a programme that is designed to help her unique problems, so she is in the very best of hands.  Usually an eating disorder programme will encompass all aspects of your daughters needs in order for her to recover, but if it is a secular programme then the spiritual aspect may not be considered.  This being the case, a Christian counsellor would ideally work in with the team that is running the programme, and not against it in any way.  By this I mean that the counsellor would not decide that the programme is missing certain psychotherapeutic aspects and try to take up the slack or fill in the perceived gaps, but would rather simply add a spiritual dimension to the patient's therapy.  This would be in the form of listening to your daughter's questions and understanding of her relationship with God, and helping her to come to a more stable and positive place spiritually.  I cannot speak for all Christian counsellors, only for what I would do myself as a Christian counsellor.  I have worked with several anorexia sufferers before, during and after they have undergone therapy via a programme, and I have been very careful to work in harmony with that particular programme.  Studies show that the best way to work with people who have this particular eating disorder is by a team approach, and the Christian counsellor should consider herself to be part of that team.  Ideally, communication is made with the programme co-ordinators by the counsellor to make sure that all those who are working with the sufferer are working together for the success of the patient. Perhaps it would also be expedient if the parents entered counselling too, if this is not already part of the programme, as the anxiety associated with having a child with anorexia can be quite debilitating, and counselling can help alleviate this.  I wish you all the best and hope you find a counsellor who fits your needs. 

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Page last updated Oct 06, 2011

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Penny Bell - Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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