Connecting Body and Mind during Treatment of Eating Disorders

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An experiential presentation to be delivered at the 2016 iaedp Symposium demonstrates that use of metaphor and physical sensation can bring together cognitive (psyche) and somatic (body) processes which can help those with eating disorders reconnect to relational needs, strengthen boundaries and develop communication skills needed for recovery.

One of the greatest challenges for professionals in treating sufferers with eating disorders is motivating them to recognize their own personal needs. Often they become dissociated from their bodies, internal needs and even relationships. An experiential presentation to be delivered at the 2016 iaedp Symposium demonstrates that use of metaphor and physical sensation can bring together cognitive (psyche) and somatic (body) processes which can help those with eating disorders reconnect to relational needs, strengthen boundaries and develop communication skills needed for recovery.

The presentation “Reuniting Soma & Psyche: The Body/Mind Connection in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” is just one of the more than 40 offered by leading eating disorder professionals during the annual iaedp Symposium at the Omni on Amelia Island in Florida held on February 17 – 22, 2016. Registration information can be found at iaedp.com.

This experiential mind-body workshop will offer skills and strategies to demonstrate how to access right brain processes that form the basis of the relational template and regulatory system via sensation, emotion, imagery, and metaphor – and to directly intervene with the emotion dysregulation and dissociation that is common with disordered eating.

According to Anita Johnston, PhD, CEDS and the primary presenter of the workshop, many individuals with eating disorders are so dissociated from their bodies, that access to internal information about their physical and emotional needs has been dampened in favor of unconscious patterns of relating to their selves, their bodies and to others.

Dr. Johnston also explains that while eating disorders are complex, multi-layered and pernicious, in recent years, there has been burgeoning evidence for the role of emotion regulation in disordered eating. Currently, a new wave of theories is emerging that focuses on the deeper, regulatory levels of the nervous system that are correlated with our early relational experiences and responsible for the modulation of affect. These theories infer that the body, the very stage where the war is waged, is the missing link to effective treatment for eating disorders.

Dr. Johnston is Clinical Director of Ai Pono IOP in Honolulu and Consultant to EATFED Eating Disorders Programs in Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Eating in the Light of the Moon, which has been published in six languages. Workshop co-presenter Paula Scatoloni, LCSW, CEDS, SEP is a psychotherapist, Certified Eating Disorders Specialist and Somatic Experiencing® practitioner in Durham, North Carolina.

About iaedp: Since 1985, the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals has provided education and training standards to an international and multidisciplinary group of various healthcare treatment providers and helping professions.

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Susan Lomelino
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