The Importance of Using Community Resources in Treatment

Contributor: Brittany Nowak, BA- Marketing Director at Tapestry Eating Disorder Program & Jay Joslin, QP, CSAC-I- Technical and Public Relations Development Consultant at Tapestry Eating Disorder Program.

What are “Community Resources?”

Friends Meeting in City SquareCommunity Resources are assets in a community that help meet certain needs for those around them. These assets can be people, places or structures, and community services. These resources can be essential in developing skills post-discharge by helping the client diversify their range of outlets of support, expression and natural self-development.

Why are Community Resources important in treatment?

Eating Disorders cause overwhelming and intense emotions and behaviors surrounding food and weight. Those who struggle with eating disorders often hide and disguise symptoms from family and friends.

In the midst of an eating disorder, people are more than likely to disengage from activities that are centered around food and eating. Using community resources during treatment are necessary because it introduces the client to typical and new experiences. Clients break out of their comfort zones through exposure to new routines, engaging their talents and exploring previously suppressed social, cultural, and intellectual pursuits.

Examples of Community Resources

Many things can serve as a community resource. For example, a local equine boarding facility can serve as a means of therapy for clients, known as Equine Therapy when paired with a clinical curriculum. Those who experience an eating disorder often require a lot of emotional and spiritual healing.

Equine therapy is known to be more of a ‘hands on’ approach that helps bring about positive change to the underlying issues the client is having. This type of therapy helps clients develop skills such as accountability, self confidence, responsibility, self control, and problem solving through the act of caring for the horses.

How Clothes Shops Are a Community Resource

Nothing is permanent except changeClothes shops can also be used as a valuable community resource for those in eating disorder treatment. Shopping often becomes a dreaded and challenging activity to those who struggle with an eating disorder. It is usually difficult for the client to feel good about how clothes fit on their body.

These body image issues provoke massive amounts of anxiety and prevent the client from feeling comfortable with the clothes they try on. Having the client visit clothing shops with a supportive friend or group can help them see positive things about their appearance.

This is a resource that many people would easily overlook, but because it is specific to management of body-image issues, the venue can help the client achieve critical moments of success in their treatment.

Grocery Stores and Food Markets as Resources

In the Eating Disorder field, other unlikely community resources are grocery stores and food markets. For those with eating disorders, food can be seen as an enemy, therefore making food shopping a very challenging event. Those who struggle with anorexia and/or restricting behaviors oftentimes avoid going grocery shopping altogether.

This instills a behavior of restriction because there is little to no food on hand due to the lack of visits to the grocery store. People who struggle with Bulimia or a binge eating disorder will try to avoid a visit to the grocery store due to the urges to purchase certain binge foods.

Taking frequent trips to a grocery store during treatment with a supportive group helps clients to easily express their feelings to others in the group and determine why it is making them anxious. They learn to overcome fears and anxieties that the food buying process may trigger.

Local Restaurants

at the grocery storeAnother example of a community resource is a local restaurant. As mentioned previously, those who struggle with eating disorders view food as an enemy. They often develop major anxiety surrounding food and the act of eating in public.

Eating at restaurants with a supportive treatment group can help with triggering feelings that may come up for the individual who struggles with an eating disorder. Enjoying the company you are with often makes meals more enjoyable. Having the client focus more on who they are with will help lessen the fears they have around the food.

Finding Other Examples

There are many other examples of community resources that can be and are frequently utilized in eating disorder treatment. These will often vary with the individual experience and need of the client based on their diagnostic history and the desired outcomes of their treatment.

The development of successful Eating Disorder treatment is often dependent upon the acknowledgement and understanding of the symptomology and best paired community resources to meet the client’s individual needs.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What resources do you have within your community that are beneficial to someone struggling with an eating disorder?


References:

  1. http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/identify-community-assets/main
  2. http://eatingdisorders.about.com/od/coping_skills/a/Six-Steps-To-Survive-Eating-Out.htm
  3. http://www.eatingdisordersrecoverytoday.com/six-tips-for-grocery-shopping-in-recovery/
  4. http://freedomfromed.com/recovery-helps/eating-disorder-articles/issues-in-eating-disorder-recovery/clothes-shopping/
  5. http://herdbyahorse.com/2013/05/30/using-equine-assisted-therapy-to-assist-with-eating-disorder-recovery/

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

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 28th, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com