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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.



Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


800px-Banyan tree ClevelandA young woman with very little money ranted about wasting her last therapy appointment complaining about how her support group was ending. She spoke in broken sentences. She tried to overwhelm her fear and grief with rage. *

Her group, sponsored by a government program, was time limited. Her therapy was ending because insurance wouldn't cover more sessions. She was adrift and in a panic without finances or structure.

If you have an eating disorder and are low on funds you need a recovery template that will carry you through your recovery work when the insurance or government programs limit your treatment .This means you need to act on recovery needs that you don't understand yet. Not an easy task, but then, we all know eating disorder recovery is not an easy task.

Here's what you need to know. This knowledge will help motivate you to follow the suggestions at the end of this post. Follow them and you will be equipped to deal with powerful disruptions and remain stable on your recovery path.

When  anyone, has an eating disorder, separation is a major trigger. This means separation in terms of:
  • ending a relationship
  • ending a date
  • ending a class or group
  • ending an appointment (even if another is scheduled)

Separation includes:
  • leaving a party
  • guest leaving your home
  • moving to another town
  • starting school
  • ending school
  • starting and ending a vacation
  • starting a job
  • ending a job
  • starting a relationship
  • ending a relationship

Separation  can even include day turning into night and vice versa.

Effective treatment includes sustained relationships where you have a recovery place and person there for you throughout your recovery work. Going in-patient gives you that, but you are in a bubble. When you are in a fragile state both physically and mentally, in-patient can hold you and bring you up to a more sturdy condition. However, in-patient removes you from the reality of every day living.

Intensive out-patient treatment, where you spend many hours a day every day or every evening or three to five evenings a week, gives you ongoing support and treatment. You have more of an opportunity to be in whatever the real world is to you as you do your recovery work.

Both may give you opportunities to work individually with a clinician. This is important. You need to be really seen, known, understood and accepted with respect by another person for you to develop beyond your pain and shame into the healthy person you can be.

Interruptions in the continuity of that experience are more than triggering. If you are in your recovery process and venturing into new ways of trusting and healing, disruptions can plunge you back into unbearable feelings that drive you into your eating disorder behaviors for protection.

Individual psychotherapy that is ongoing with no time limit and allows thorough access to your therapist provides continuity and stability. You work in an environment of trust, acceptance and respect knowing you and your therapist will be together for as long as it takes and through all the events that occur in your life during your recovery work. This is costly.

You say:
  •   "My insurance only covers 20 appointments."  
  •   "My therapist is only allowed to see patients once a month."
  •   "I've reached my limit of appointments. Even after several extensions I'm still feeling awful. Now I'll never see my   therapist again."  
  •   "I can't afford private practice with an unlimited time frame."  
I hear stories of bewildered anguish from women struggling to keep their treatment going while they feel rage and despair at the limitations of treatment available to them.

Thinking has got to get blurred when you know separation is looming from the first appointment because you have a specific number of sessions available to you. Thoughts and feelings can go haywire when the inevitable separation occurs.

You need to know this. You need to know that separation and disruption in your life triggers your eating disorder and will trigger your eating disorder until you are really in recovery. When you know this you can create structure for yourself so when separations occur, especially if your treatment is disrupted, you don't lose the entire foundation of your stability.

Solution: Put healthy, supportive and healing activities in your life and honor them in a regular schedule now.


Have a "friend event" one a week. Could be lunch or a walk in the park, etc. Your choice. Block it out in your calendar, and make it happen no matter what. (little or no financial cost) 

Find a spiritual program that suits you and make it a regular part of your life. Go to meetings. Meet people. Contribute. (little or no financial cost)

Find a creativity outlet like a writing class or writing group or art class. Attend once a week or alternate weeks or once a month, but make it regular. And give yourself the space and time to do the creative action on your own on a regular basis several times a week. (little or no financial cost: yes, costly through some schools and private offerings. Look to the park system, museums, local community organizations. Don't overlook the internet for possibilities, e.g. www.coursera.org)

Recovery work: You can vary this. Give yourself recovery projects on a regular basis and follow them. For example, you might go to 12-step meetings or be part of an ANAD support group. You might go on a week-end retreat or do a workshop about healing something amiss in your life. Experiment and keep yourself open to new opportunities. (little or no financial cost: again, many programs and events are costly but many are not. 12-step and ANAD are free. )

Find a meditation or mindfulness class, group or program and attend on a regular basis. Again, one a week or alternate weeks or once a month.  Just make it a regular event in your life. Meet the people. Contribute. (Some are costly, but some are free. Look carefully for what is right for you.

Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder will give you many more suggestions about what activities to bring into your life that contributes greatly to your healing. Each chapter ends with recommendations.  The Appendix is rich with many options and possibilities.

The forum and comment sections of this site often serve as mini support groups for readers. 

With all this in place, you still go to your mental health professional to do your individual recovery work. Now you have a structure that holds you and your therapy. You can do deep work with your therapist in a climate of love and support.

You can feel and be more secure knowing that if and when insurance and government programs fall away, taking your treatment with them, you are not alone. You do not go into free fall. You do not retreat with pain and shame into your eating disorder behaviors.

You have a supportive healing structure around you so you can stumble but not collapse.    (see how the Banyon tree in the photo gives itself many structual supports.  Yes, it's a picture of one tree.)

  1.   What is in your life now that is regular, consistent and supports you with care, respect and health?  
  2.   What more like this could you add to your life?  
  3.   What is in your life now that is supports you but on a casual and unorganized basis?  
  4.   How can you make this stable and consistent in your life?
  *A Banyan tree claimed to be the oldest in Queensland, located in Cleveland beside the Grand View Hotel. photo by NJM2010

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