Bias confessions of a psychotherapist: overeating recovery
- Category: Psychotherapy and Recovery Work
Bias Clarity and the Therapeutic AllianceBias in psychotherapy needs to be on the table. This is critical for a cooperative alliance between client and psychotherapist.
With or without an eating disorder, we all live our lives based on our agendas with our values and perceived survival needs leading the way. If we balance our emotions and stress levels with overeating we will get short term benefits. If we let overeating continue to balance our tolerance for stress we move into isolation, self-criticism and loneliness break our own hearts and can't save ourselves from our pain.
As a psychotherapist I am expected to have a neutral stance with my clients. However, I am not neutral. I want, with all my heart, for you to live a long healthy life. I want you to be well, to have love, joy, satisfaction, confidence and a genuine liking for yourself as you proceed onward to a feisty, interesting and healthy old age. I especially do not want you to break your own heart.
Your Reasons for Entering Psychotherapy
You have a reason to come to my psychotherapy practice or my writings. Primarily, you come because you are an adult who binge eats or overeats or has another eating disorder. You also come because you care about someone with an eating disorder. You may also come because you know someone who benefited from my work and want those same benefits for your life.
Mostly, you come because you experience emotional pain and frustration in your life and have a spark of hope that a better way to live exists. You believe your suffering is your fault as you break your heart with health, social and professional ramifications of overeating. Ending binge eating and overeating is a step, a major step granted, but still a step toward creating and living a better life.
Establishing Goals for Therapy and Life
In my practice, my focus is on the whole person in front of me. I see how much energy you pour into food and eating, plus worrying about food and eating. I get a glimpse of what might be possible for you if that energy were directed toward living a more full life. When we share that vision we become a team of two with the goal being to send life energy to your every day life.
That means dismantling the system you have evolved around your eating. Together we remove the need for emotional protection given by overeating habits. Appreciating bias helps establishe agreement on our mutual goal. That goal becomes creating a psychological, emotional and spiritual new normal that allows your genuine life potential to unfold.
Priority of Your Goals
My job, as I see it, requires me to state my bias and let you know that your best choices come from your beliefs, not mine. You also need to know that I will support your living based on your values, not mine.
Neither of us will make or honor decisions based on the distorted thinking and value systems that are stem from the voice of an eating disorder.
Goals Based On Eating Disorder
A free and healthy person faces difficult choices in life.
When you have an eating disorder of any kind, an automatic and artificial guiding system becomes your default decision making apparatus. It has nothing to do with your true values, desires, goals and authentic yearnings. It's only about pretense, hiding and false safety.
Without an eating disorder, you don't stay home and binge instead of meeting with friends. You don't binge and throw up before meeting a potential employer and therefore meet that person in a partially numbed condition.
If an eating disorder isn't there then decisions about school applications, career choices, pregnancy (to conceive or terminate), relationship choices (positive or negative), commitments of any kind, are based on your personal agenda and values. These must belong to the individual, not me. And neither of us want them to be determined by an active eating disorder.
Discovering and Honoring Your Genuine Values
I do my best to make my bias clear so that you are free of any sense of obligation to please me. More importantly, my stating my bias helps you sort out what you think you are supposed to choose from what you genuinely want to choose. You understand decisions based on the agenda and values of others, including the entire culture, as opposed to what you deeply value.
After all, in the end, you live your life, not anyone else whose choices you choose to be your own. And a satisfying life is one that is based on living according to your own true agenda and values.
Sometimes self sacrifice is based on deeply held and honored values known and appreciated by you alone. I believe a person needs to be free to make such a choice.
However, if an eating disorder is in the way, choices involving self sacrifice can be blurred or seen as required with no possibility of flexibility, change or even a vague sense of the option to say, “No.”
If you are oblivious to your values or put the demands of your binge eating before your own highest priorities you can make a choice that will immediately or eventually break your own heart.
As an eating disorder fades you are challenged to listen to what's within you and learn your own truth.
I stand for your listening to and honoring your own unbuffered self, mind, spirit, body and heart. When you can do that, you are on your way to living your real life. That is a joyous and satisfying way to live.
Questions for You
Can you identify ways or instances where you contribute to breaking your own heart?
What would it take to honor what you truly care about?
Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice serving California, Arizona, Florida, Utah and Oregon. All appointments are virtual. Serving adults only with a minimum age of 24. Seniors welcome.
Author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder.