New Eating Recovery Center of Ohio Acknowledges Connection Between Technology and Eating Disorders

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Now open and admitting patients, Ohio-based eating disorder treatment center contends that online content, social media and apps can contribute to an eating disorder as well as foster lasting recovery

While providing a full spectrum of care, we offer healing and hope for a lasting recovery to individuals and families with an eating disorder.

"Social media can contribute to the development and maintenance of an eating disorder, but it can also be a powerful tool to support and sustain recovery." - Dr. Ashley Solomon

“As our understanding of the individuals affected by eating disorders evolves, so too does our understanding of how to address these multi-faceted illnesses,” explains Program Director Dr. Ashley Solomon, PsyD, http://www.erc-ohio.com, a Cincinnati-based eating disorder treatment center that serves adults, adolescents and families.

Solomon, a nationally recognized eating disorder treatment expert and thought leader on the connection between eating disorders and technology also serves as Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders’ Social Media Committee. “Recent years have seen the swift emergence of technologies in everyday life, notably social media and mobile apps. In some cases, these and other emerging technologies can contribute to the development and maintenance of an eating disorder.”

Emerging technology provides dangerous, unfiltered exposure to eating disorder-triggering content, including:

  • Increasing volume of pro-eating disorder content on the Internet, also known as “thinspiration,” “thinspo,” “pro-ana” and “pro-mia.” Images and text encourage eating disorder behaviors as means for achieving an extremely thin body ideal. This content results in feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and body dissatisfaction in otherwise normal women, and can compel an urgent need to take action through restriction, purging, or over-exercising to achieve greater thinness among those struggling with negative body image or an eating disorder.
  • As social media usage increases, so too does body dissatisfaction, and the more time that we spend in social comparison affects deficits in our self-esteem. Many individuals use social media to share information and pictures about their diets and body ideals, while some individuals who are already dealing with interpersonal difficulties and issues around self-esteem and confidence may spend too much time in social media as a means of avoidance, passivity and limiting direct communication with friends and loved ones. Eating disorders are lonely and isolating illnesses, and social media offers a sense of belonging and connection around a topic that feels safe and comfortable, even if it is unhealthy.
  • Many apps for tablets and cell phones are designed to support dieting and “fitness,” tracking everything from caloric intake to weight loss to steps taken each day. While these tools are benign and helpful for many people in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, individuals prone to eating disorders can struggle to use this technology responsibly and step away from it, utilizing it as yet another avenue for self-destruction.

“While certain aspects of social media can contribute to the development and maintenance of an eating disorder, it can also be a powerful tool to support and sustain recovery when used responsibly,” continues Dr. Solomon. “Social media enables peer support and fosters connection with others, and for individuals with struggling with interpersonal skills, it can be a great place to start generating relationships and connections. Also, while pro-eating disorder content is becoming increasingly common online, so too is meaningful recovery-focused content, including communities, groups and blogs.”

As part of the Eating Recovery Center family of programs, Eating Recovery Center of Ohio leverages several technologies in the treatment environment to support and engage our increasingly tech-savvy patients.

  • Initial assessment exploring patient technology use and how it potentially supports maladaptive thoughts and behaviors related to body image, food and eating, self-esteem, confidence and interpersonal relationships.
  • Body movement sensors, also known as “body bugs,” are leveraged to assess sleep and exercise patterns, including the frequency, volume or intensity of the movement. Body movement sensors are particularly helpful with patients inclined to over-exercise, as well as a tool for when individuals struggling with exercise and body issues are challenged with being able to reliably self-report movement to their treatment team.
  • MP3s preloaded with material to support relaxation and anxiety management are given to patients upon admission.
  • Various art therapy projects leverage multimedia to foster healing through creativity and artistic expression.

The multidisciplinary treatment team at Eating Recovery Center of Ohio delivers comprehensive levels of outpatient care, including medical, psychiatric, therapeutic and nutritional interventions. For more information or to speak with a Master’s-level eating disorder therapist, call 513-273-1706 or email info(at)erc-ohio(dot)com or visit (http://www.erc-ohio.com) to engage in confidential live chat.

About Eating Recovery Center of Ohio (http://www.erc-ohio.com): Located in Cincinnati, Eating Recovery Center of Ohio offers comprehensive outpatient eating disorder treatment programs for adults, adolescents and families in the region. Individualized treatment plans deliver evidence-based medical, psychiatric, psychological and dietary interventions to meet each patient’s unique recovery needs. Eating Recovery Center of Ohio partners directly with Eating Recovery Center, a center of excellence for eating disorders treatment based in Denver, Colorado. Eating Recovery Center offers the full continuum of eating disorders care under the leadership of five internationally recognized treatment experts with 160 years of combined eating disorder treatment experience. As a member of the Eating Recovery Center family of programs, Eating Recovery Center of Ohio’s patients and families benefit from the most comprehensive and effective eating disorder treatment available. Call 513-273-1706 or email info(at)erc-ohio(dot)com

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