Many individuals who suffer from trauma will use an eating disorder as a means to feel in control of something. This often occurs because trauma makes a person feel vulnerable and like they have no control over what happens to them in life. Eating disorders often blunt a person’s ability to experience emotions, which lessens intense anxiety, fear, and anger. In addition, an eating disorder can become a distraction from thoughts of trauma as eating disorders often become all consuming. At The Meadows Ranch, our treatment teams understand that to treat a patient with an eating disorder and trauma entirely, both need to be concurrently addressed since failing to treat one or the other will lead to a relapse and a decreased quality of life.
At The Meadows Ranch, we focus on nutritional rehabilitation at the start of treatment because without basic nutrition a person’s brain is offline and unable to participate successfully in therapy or really feel one’s emotions. The next layer is creating a safe environment that supports the trauma work. At The Meadows Ranch, we have a truly amazing group of professionals that genuinely care about each patient’s recovery with staff available around the clock to offer support.
In addition, people that have experienced trauma often engage in maladaptive coping skills, which may include eating disorder behaviors, self-injury, and shutting down to manage their intense emotions. In order to address these maladaptive coping skills our staff, including behavioral health techs, nurses, therapists, and dietitians, are trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT includes skills in mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. If one of our patients is struggling, our entire staff are trained to help her find and practice an effective coping skill in the moment. This is particularly important when a patient is doing trauma work since she will be more vulnerable to intense emotions and memories that may require assistance to contain her emotions. At The Meadows Ranch, this support is offered 24-hours a day.
The final piece in treating trauma is processing the trauma that has occurred and allowing that trauma to become a chapter in the book of life instead of a novel as it can become when it is not adequately treated. At The Meadows Ranch, our therapists are specially trained in treating trauma, which includes being certified in Eye Motion Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is an evidence-based treatment for trauma.
The treatment of trauma and eating disorders is complex and multifaceted. At The Meadows Ranch, we have all of the tools available to help individuals recover from both trauma and their eating disorder.