Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that are characterized by extremely unhealthy eating habits. If left untreated, eating disorders can have devastating effects and lead to severe short and long-term consequences. There are a variety of different types of eating disorders, and The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) categorizes the various types under Feeding and Eating Disorders. The three most common types of eating disorders include: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. 

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by behaviors including unreasonable and unhealthy habitual food restrictions, over-exercising, abusing diet pills, abusing laxatives, and/ or fasting. An individual struggling with bulimia nervosa experiences frequent episodes of binge eating (eating excessive amounts of food in short periods of time) followed by purging (attempting to rid the body of the food by vomiting, fasting, and/ or excessively exercising). Binge eating disorder is partially similar to bulimia nervosa, except an individual with binge eating disorder does not follow-up his or her binge eating behaviors by purging. Instead, the individual internalizes the binge eating behaviors by experiencing a slew of damaging emotions (i.e. feeling disgusted, ashamed, guilty and/ or distressed) as a result of his or her excessive over-eating. The treatment for an eating disorder will depend on the particular type of eating disorder developed as well as an individual’s symptoms. Most frequently treatment plans for eating disorders is comprised of therapy, education, and/ or medication.

Types of Therapy

Every individual is different and an individual with an eating disorder will experience a unique set of physiological symptoms. When treating an individual with an eating disorder there is a wide range of therapeutic strategies that are frequently relied upon. Different people will respond to different therapeutic techniques. Often, treatment plans integrate a variety of different therapy methods and configurations (i.e. one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, family therapy sessions…etc.). Attending group therapy sessions does not preclude an individual from participating in other forms of eating disorder treatment. For some individuals, participating in group therapy sessions will resonate and for others it will not.  Some individuals will respond best to group therapy that is also supplemented with individual therapy sessions. Others may find group therapy less valuable to their eating disorder recovery progress. 

Participating in group therapy can provide an individual with an eating disorder exposure to different recovery tools than those available in an individual therapy session. The group therapy setting can offer a safe emotional environment for people struggling with eating disorders to verbally describe their experiences regarding how they are working towards recovery with others that are also in recovery for eating disorders. 

Group Therapy in LA

Eating disorder group therapy can be integrated into an individual’s acute eating disorder treatment as well as subsequent recovery process. Individuals that have completed formal treatment for eating disorders will have some type of aftercare plan established. Many will have resources that offer subsequent recovery support in the form of group therapy. Those that do not surely have information that can assist in pointing people in right direction to enable them to join a reputable eating disorder therapy group. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders is an excellent resource for those in need of additional information. Furthermore, any person that needs help locating an eating disorder therapy group could inquire by reaching out to a treatment center, mental health clinician, and/ or hospital. Conducting an Internet search to view eating disorder therapy groups held in Los Angels can yield a number of viable options. There is also the Eating Disorder Resource Catalogue that has compiled a list of eating disorder support group meetings held in California, including many in Los Angeles. 

What Else?

In addition to regularly attending and participating in eating disorder group therapy, maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can be beneficial to one’s continued recovery. Engaging in self-care practices, such as carving out ample relaxation time into one’s daily schedule, attending eating disorder support group meetings, integrating healthy and regular exercise habits, assuring sufficient sleep is obtained are all helpful to one’s overall recovery. There are general eating disorder support groups in Los Angeles as well as specialized eating disorder support groups. The specific type of support group selected will depend on the individual’s preference. Eating disorders are not temporary conditions and the recovery process will require a life-long commitment. However, with the proper treatment and support an individual recovering from an eating disorder can go on to live a satisfying, healthy, and meaningful life.