Is your child struggling with an eating disorder?
Are you in need of guidance so that you can support your child towards recovery?
This page will provide you with information about how parents can help their child recover from an eating disorder with my Eating Disorder Parent Coaching.
How Parents Can Help Their Child Recover from an Eating Disorder
Most eating disorder treatments focus on changing the child’s behaviour and their relationship with food – you may be asked to participate in facilitating these changes, such as with the Family Based Therapy (FBT) model.
My approach for parents will support the child’s current treatment methods, such as the Carolyn Costin Coaching approach, as well as focusing on parenting from the inside out and the relationship that parents have with their child. My approach focuses on the whole family system, and their relationships with each other, rather than pathologising the child and their behaviours. There is a great video clip here which explains this beautifully:
This approach is not about blaming parents for the child’s eating disorder; it is about teaching parents the necessary relational and attachment focused parenting skills to support their child’s recovery.
In our 90 minute session/s together, we will focus on 4 models to help you do this:
- Parenting From the Inside Out
- The Circle of Security
- Non-Violent Communication
Parenting from the Inside Out
Parenting from the Inside Out is a parenting approach developed by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Mary Hartzell which emphasises the importance of understanding parents’ own experiences and emotions in their parenting style. This approach can be helpful for parents of children with eating disorders in several ways:
- Building emotional awareness: Parenting from the inside out helps parents develop emotional awareness and recognise how their own trauma, experiences and emotions affect their parenting style. This can help parents respond to their child’s struggles with disordered eating in a compassionate and empathetic way.
- Promoting secure attachment: Parenting from the inside out approach emphasises the importance of secure attachment between the parent and child. By promoting secure attachment, parents create a safe and nurturing environment for their child that supports their recovery. Attachment as the focus can take place at any age.
- Encouraging reflective parenting: Parenting from the inside out encourages parents to reflect on their own parenting experiences and how they can improve their relationship with their child. This can help parents become more attuned to their child’s emotional needs and feelings, and respond in a way that promotes healing and recovery.
- Developing resilience: Parenting from the inside out can help parents and children develop resilience by promoting emotional awareness, secure attachment, and reflective parenting. This can help both parents and children cope with the challenges of disordered eating and promote long-term recovery.
The Circle of Security
The Circle of Security is a framework developed by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell for parents to foster healthy attachment relationships with their children. It can be useful for children and young adults with eating disorders as the eating concern can be a manifestation of underlying emotional distress, which is often related to attachment issues. Here are some ways that the Circle of Security can help:
- Providing a secure base: Children with eating disorders may feel anxious, unsafe or insecure in the world. By providing a secure base, parents can create a safe and stable environment for their child to feel more secure, which can help reduce anxiety and lessen the need for disordered eating behaviours.
- Enhancing parental sensitivity: Parents can learn to attune to their child’s needs and feelings, which can help them identify triggers that may cause their child to engage in disordered eating behaviours. They can learn to respond in a supportive and caring way, which can help the child feel understood and validated.
- Promoting emotional regulation: Eating disorders are often related to difficulties in regulating emotions. The Circle of Security can help parents teach their child emotional regulation skills, such as mindfulness, breathing, and self-soothing techniques.
- Encouraging healthy communication: Children with eating disorders may struggle to communicate their needs and feelings. The Circle of Security can help parents learn how to communicate in a way that encourages their child to express themselves and feel heard.
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a communication approach designed by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenburg to promote empathy and understanding between people, even in the most challenging of situations, such as when a child has an eating disorder. It can be helpful for children with eating disorders in several ways:
- Facilitating emotional expression: Children with eating disorders may have difficulty expressing their emotions or talking about their struggles with feelings, thoughts, needs, food and body image. NVC can help parents create a safe space where their child feels comfortable sharing their emotions without fear of judgment or criticism.
- Identifying unmet needs: Eating disorders can be a result of unmet emotional needs. NVC can help children identify their unmet needs and express them in a non-judgmental way. This can help parents understand what their child’s needs are and how they can best support them.
- Reducing shame and blame: Eating disorders are often associated with shame and guilt. NVC can help parents and caregivers communicate with their child in a way that avoids blame and judgment. This can help the child feel less defensive and more open to receiving help and support.
- Encouraging self-compassion: NVC emphasises the importance of self-compassion and self-empathy. By modelling self-compassion and encouraging their child to practice self-compassion, parents and caregivers can help their child develop a healthier relationship with themselves and their body.
The Right Relations Model
The Right Relations Model is a therapeutic approach based on Martin Buber’s the I and the Thou. It focuses on building healthy and respectful relationships in the present moment. This way of relating can be helpful for parents who have a child with an eating disorder in several ways:
- Building trust: Trust is essential in any relationship, and it’s particularly important when working with a child who has an eating disorder. The Right Relations Model can help parents build trust with their child by fostering open and honest communication, respecting their child’s autonomy and choices, and showing empathy and understanding.
- Promoting self-awareness: The Right Relations Model can help parents become more self-aware, which can help them identify their own emotions and triggers that may affect their interactions with their child. This can help parents respond in a supportive and constructive way when their child is struggling with big feelings, struggling to get their needs met and disordered eating behaviours.
- Encouraging healthy boundaries: Eating disorders can be linked to difficulties with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries, sufferers sometimes even use their body as a boundary when they can’t speak their feelings and needs. The Right Relations Model can help parents establish clear and healthy boundaries with their child that promote safety, respect, and trust. This modelling will also teach the child how to set healthy boundaries within the family system and the world at large.
- Fostering connection: The Right Relations Model emphasises the importance of connection in building healthy relationships. By fostering a sense of connection with their child, parents can create a supportive and nurturing environment that promotes healing and recovery. In turn, this teaches the child how to connect with their inner and outer world in a healthier way.
Why Choose Jodie as Your Eating Disorder Parenting Coach?
I have been in recovery from bulimia for over 25 years and have helped 100s of young women recover from trauma, disordered eating and not feeling good enough. My practice is currently full with over 150 women on my wait list. I no longer work with under 18s so I make sure to save some spaces to work with parents in a short-term capacity.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from the women I work with who have eating disorders, is that the whole family system is rarely addressed in treatment- this makes recovery that much harder. This style of coaching is not for the faint hearted, it is for parents who are ready and willing to look inwards and do the internal work necessary to support their child’s eating disorder recovery.
Alongside the above relational approaches, I am a Registered Clinical Psychotherapist®, Trauma Specialist, Eating Psychology & Carolyn Costin Eating Disorder Coach. You can read more about me here.
Contact me now to make an appointment or for more information about how parents can help their child recover from an eating disorder with my Eating Disorder Parent Coaching.