3 Things I Never Say to My Clients as a Disordered Eating Specialist

Navigating the path to recovery from disordered eating is a deeply personal and often challenging journey. As a specialist in this field, my approach is rooted in compassion, understanding, and a commitment to empowering my clients.

Here are three things I never say to my clients, and the reasons behind these choices.

Promising clients they won’t gain “too much” weight during recovery perpetuates harmful weight bias and contradicts my weight-inclusive philosophy. Recovery from disordered eating often involves changes in weight, but predicting or promising specific outcomes can undermine the healing process.

Here’s why I avoid such statements:

  • I respecting body diversity:  I value all body sizes and shapes, understanding that health is not determined by a number on the scale. Telling clients they won’t become “too big” implies that certain body sizes are undesirable, which is untrue and damaging.
  • I focus on health, not weight: My goal is to help clients restore their relationship with food and their bodies, rather than fixating on weight. Recovery is about achieving mental and physical health, which can come at any size.
  • I don’t give false promises: Weight changes in recovery are unpredictable and unique to each individual. Making promises about weight can set unrealistic expectations and lead to disappointment or setback.

By fostering a weight-inclusive environment, I support my clients in embracing their bodies, whatever their size.

Recovery is a personal choice and journey, and I believe that pushing clients into recovery can be counterproductive.

Here’s why I avoid this approach:

  • Empowerment over pressure: Recovery cannot be forced. Clients need to make the decision for themselves, feeling empowered and ready. Pressure and ultimatums can lead to resistance and exacerbate anxiety.
  • Individual readiness: Everyone’s journey is different, and readiness for recovery varies. By respecting where my clients are in their process, I create a safe space for genuine, self-motivated progress.
  • Long-term success: Sustainable recovery is built on a foundation of internal motivation and self-determination, not external pressure. I support my clients in finding their own reasons and desire for recovery, which leads to more enduring results.

Instead of using forceful methods like recovery pledges or ultimatums, I focus on providing support, education, and motivation tailored to each client’s unique needs.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that each client is the expert on their own experience. Here’s why I never assume I know what’s best for my clients without their input:

  • I collaborate with my clients: I believe in working collaboratively with my clients, and valuing their insights and experiences. This partnership approach ensures that the strategies we develop are both effective and personally meaningful.
  • I respect their autonomy: Clients know themselves better than anyone else. By respecting their autonomy and wisdom, I empower them to take an active role in their recovery, fostering self-trust and confidence.
  • Everyone has individual needs: Each person’s journey with disordered eating is unique. By truly listening to my clients and understanding their specific struggles and needs, I can provide more personalized and effective support.

My role is to guide, support, and offer professional expertise, but ultimately, the client’s voice is central in shaping their recovery path.

In my practice, I prioritize creating a supportive, non-judgmental environment where clients feel empowered to heal in their own way and on their own terms. By avoiding these three statements, I strive to foster a recovery process that respects and values each client’s journey.

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