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June 8, 2017

Obtaining the Best Eating Disorder Treatment Possible

Friends talking and supporting each other fresh out of eating disorder treatment

Contributor: Megan Ross, PhD Candidate, LPC, R-DMT, GL-CMA, serves as the Chief Clinical Officer for Aloria Health.

Communication is the cornerstone of humanity, and conversations are one of our central ways of communicating. Conversations allow us to share and exchange ideas, thoughts and feelings. Through conversations, we learn not just about ideas, but we also learn about those we are in conversation with and more about ourselves [1].

Within our current cultural, political and healthcare climate, positively engaging in conversations can bring us more empathically together, demonstrating our commitments to our value of caring for each other.

Communication Within Relationships

Within the delivery of care, conversations are often thought of as client and therapist. Focus is placed on the interpersonal relationship of individual therapy. While the value of this interpersonal relationship is indescribable, focus on this relationship alone lacks the complexity of healthcare realities.

Friends supporting each otherThe reality is that for the best possible care to be delivered, there need be in-depth conversations had between insurance companies, family and friends of clients, continuing care providers, clients themselves, the eating disorder field as a whole and other professional fields of care. This full spectrum of conversations within care outlines the power and complexity of seeking help.

While conversations can go a number of ways and be expressed through a myriad of emotions, the primary element of a positively intended conversation is mindfully approaching each interaction [2]. Much of the literature pertaining to mindfulness and communication looks at communication as a cause of mindful intent [3]. This perspective encourages mindfulness practices in order to engage mindful communication that increases the capacity to seek understanding through the listening process.

Each moment is a new moment to listen to. Such practices challenge the pervasive habitual relations we all exhibit, habitual listening, habitual conversations and habitual communication. With repetition and intended practice, a mindful state becomes a mindful trait [1].

Active Listening in a Therapeutic Setting

Conversations require the key component of listening to be highlighted to ensure the positive intent and outcomes of understanding. Listening is giving one’s attention to a sound. In a verbal conversation, that sound is the exchange of words between people.

Listening, however, extends to the non-verbal. Active listening is described as mindful attention in the attempt to comprehend the meaning expressed by another. The content, structure, and sequencing of verbal messages, as well as the gestures, postures, facial expressions, body movements and cues provide the contextual frame [4].

Best friendsOften, instead of listening to the relational exchange we are focused solely on our own internal experiences, as they are often so loud that they are all we can hear [2].

However, each day we have the opportunity to truly connect by listening and responding appropriately to the person we are with instead of responding only from our own point of view, failing to make a connection to the other person’s experience [2].

Not listening leads to misunderstanding, stereotyping, expectations and preconceptions. Listening for the sake of understanding is the goal of the therapeutic process in eating disorder treatment. Listening to understand what is being lived by the person across from us, what is being experienced and expressed by our community and ourselves puts well-being front and center. By choosing to listen, we hope to collaboratively challenge pervasive patterns in order to enable us all to realize our potential.

Listening to Understand

When we listen to understand, we invite untouched realms within the field of eating disorder diagnoses and food and related body issues. We connect as humans working on the development of wellness for ourselves, our clients, and our communities. When we step into wanting to understand the situation at hand within the full spectrum of care, we invite the development of awareness on both micro and macro levels of relations.

Listening to understand provides continual feedback for us to grow the delivery of care in its full spectrum, inching closer and closer to what is actually needed for us to collectively understand eating disorder diagnoses and related issues. With this awareness, care can accomplish the primary goal of getting people back to their lives with the increased experience of well-being.

As we grow and understand ourselves, we can offer a foundation of emotional well-being and security that enables our interactions to thrive [2]. Seigel, states that without such self-understanding, however, science has shown that history will likely repeat itself, as negative patterns of family interactions are passed down through generations [2].

Listening to understand develops our ability to become aware of what is needed, how to develop offerings, meet demands, work with insurance, and be present to those in need. Awareness is knowledge and perception of a situation. Becoming aware of your awareness is the process of deepening understanding of the knowledge and perceptions we hold.

Deepening understanding brings us closer to our own truth and to the shared experience with our loved ones. Training staff and providing information and experiences to eating disorder clients, family and friends allows for understanding as awareness to develop through the mindful listening process in conversations [5].


AMegan Rossbout the author:  Megan Ross, PhD Candidate, LPC, R-DMT, GL-CMA, serves as the Chief Clinical Officer for Aloria Health. Megan is committed to working on international solutions addressing health and wellbeing. Her therapeutic practice centers on somatic integration and the embodiment processes within psychotherapy, food understanding, and trauma resilience.

Currently completing her doctorate in International Trauma and Organizational Psychology, Megan’s research addresses inclusive peace and security.


[1]:  Siegel, D. J. (2010). Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. Bantam.
[2]: Siegel, D. J., & Hartzell, M. (2013). Parenting from the inside out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. TarcherPerigee.
[3]: Burgoon, J. K., Berger, C. R., & Waldron, V. R. (2000). Mindfulness and interpersonal communication. Journal of Social Issues56(1), 105-127.
[4]: Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2016). Nonverbal communication. Routledge.
[5]: Riess, H., Kelley, J. M., Bailey, R. W., Dunn, E. J., & Phillips, M. (2012). Empathy training for resident physicians: a randomized controlled trial of a neuroscience-informed curriculum. Journal of general internal medicine,27(10), 1280-1286.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 8, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 8, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com


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