We have had three clients in the last six months come to us with an eating disorder and our team has been able to find the right therapists, doctors and specialists to provide a highly effective programme for them.
Our Co-Founder Ali Silver has personal experience with eating disorders and educated herself about addiction and mental illness as part of her recovery. She has trained as a nutritional therapist, has studied psychodynamic counselling and is a qualified eating disorder practitioner, and in the past she has coached young people in schools to deal with body image, eating disorders and nutrition.
We are very pleased to be able to offer support for people suffering from eating disorders. At The Bridge, our programs are bespoke and we make sure to tailor-make them to suit client’s needs.
We treat the following:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge eating disorder
- Disordered eating
Depending on what the client presents with, our program will entail the following:
- Weight restoration
- Therapies such as CBT, psychodynamic and person-centred
- Group therapy
We bring in specialists including Nurses, Doctors, Therapists, Psychiatrists, Dieticians and Nutritional therapists to provide a bespoke programme to meet our clients’ needs and help them overcome their issues.
Ali explains, “I am grateful for the opportunity to fracture some of the isolation that comes all too often with eating disorders, troubled body image and low self-esteem.
The first step in change is acknowledging that there is a problem, and what that problem is. Issues around disordered eating, body image and emotional eating are often so ingrained that we are not even consciously aware how they shape who we are and how we see ourselves.
Once clients have acknowledged that there is a problem, we are here to help them in a range of different ways. Our qualified therapists offer a wide range of therapies to get to the root of the issue and deal with any traumas. The Bridge is a safe place to rest and recover while receiving therapy and practical support on how to live free of food and body image issues.”
Here are some examples of how we’ve recently helped clients with these issues.
Overcoming problems with binging and purging
We recently helped a 17 year old (E), who was binging and purging.
It was sad to hear from her parents that she had been ‘in her room eating peanut butter’ and not eaten in front of a single person in two years. Her diet consisted of yogurt, peanut butter and bananas which she would binge on in her room and then purge. She was incredibly angry, non-communicative, was taking drugs and felt desperately depressed and hopeless.
When she came to us, she was assessed by therapist who also identified that she self-harmed. The first thing was to stop her from purging, as if she did not purge, then binging is less likely to occur. We had specialised eating disorder trained nurses accompanying E 24 hours a day. They would ‘shadow’ her – making sure she did not go to the toilet pre or post meals, that she did not go to the kitchen at night etc. They were also there to oversee that she ate her meals.
E’s meal plan was overseen by a team of nutritional therapist, therapist and doctor. She had 3 meals per day + 2 snacks, to ensure her blood sugar stabilised and make sure she did not get overly hungry so she wasn’t at risk of binging.
The meals started off incredibly simple; she would have extreme emotional reactions when confronted with ‘unsafe’ foods. For example, her first month at The Bridge meals were cod, rice & broccoli; plain chicken breast, quinoa and roast carrots; muesli with milk. They did not vary.
However, after 4 days she would eat with all the clients in the villa; eating in public for the first time in 2 years. By the end of E’s three months at The Bridge, her meals were colourful, varied and balanced. For example, broccoli and ham quiche, beef stew with rice, teriyaki salmon with stir fry vegetables and noodles. She would happily eat a variety of snacks, from fruit, to biscuits, nuts etc. E showed little to no signs of anxiety during snack and meal times, she was relaxed and happy around food.
E’s program consisted of daily one-to-one therapy, CBT, nutritional therapy and body image work, as well as recreation such as yoga, meditation and outings.
E is currently doing aftercare with her therapist and is applying to university to embark on a law degree!
In her own words
Here’s how E felt at the end of her stay:
“My stay at The Bridge was an experience and opportunity that I will never forget.
It became my home and every staff member and client became my family.
The trust, honesty and compassion of every single individual in here has helped me progress in my recovery and I will always be grateful.
The Bridge took me in broken and I’m going home recovered. This place and the people in it are the magic that takes place here.”
Binge eating and body image issues
JM, 26, came to The Bridge for a period of three weeks. She struggled with depression, low self-esteem, binge eating and severe body image issues.
She had extremely black and white thinking when it came to food choice: if she ate chocolate she was ‘bad’, salad was ‘good’ and she would berate herself when she ate a ‘bad food’ by binging as a form of punishment. She had stopped taking part in social events, withdrawing to her room. She showed a lot of all or nothing thinking with food and exercise, which more often than not meant she would eat badly and not move at all.
At The Bridge she worked on self-confidence and self-esteem but worked with the nutritional therapist mainly on challenging her thinking around food and exercise and finding a middle ground. She learned that there was a place for broccoli as well as chocolate – it did not have to be an either/or situation. She found forms of movement that she enjoyed, that did not feel like punishment for the meal she had eaten. She continued working with the NT for some months after she finished in-patient and has made wonderful progress.
There’s lots of help out there
Unfortunately, recovering from an eating disorder is complex and different for every person. But with the right help you can learn to manage and have a healthy relationship with food. However, it is important to find help, as sadly eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders.
Here’s some excellent information from the NHS on How to help someone with an eating disorder.
There’s lots of great advice and information on eating disorders from the charity Beat Eating Disorders. They also have a helpline and online peer support groups available if you are struggling. Find out more
If you’re concerned about a loved one and think they may have an eating disorder, or if you’re ready to get support with your eating disorder, please contact us today to find out how we can help.