Each day that goes by in the life of a person with anorexia reveals the snowballing effect of believing stressful thoughts. The thoughts that contribute to the development of anorexia worsen as the condition progresses, unless people with anorexia can be helped to view their thinking, emotions, behaviors, and condition very differently.
Due to the high risk of health problems that can develop from malnutrition (including cardiac conditions, osteoporosis, endocrine disorders, and others) and due to the heightened risk of mortality related to the effects of anorexia, interdisciplinary treatment is not only strongly recommended but is often essential for treatment success.
While nutritional stabilization is always a priority, the layers of irrational beliefs and self-defeating behaviors are daily concerns, since these can always lead to the worsening of the condition, or later relapse. In addition, it is noteworthy that about half of people with anorexia also suffer from depression. Other mental disorders, such as addictions, anxiety disorders, and bulimia are also more likely to be present in a person with anorexia than in a person who doesn’t have it.
Why include Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in recovery from anorexia?
To utilize REBT, it is helpful to be aware of some of the common irrational beliefs and maladaptive behaviors that are prevalent in the anorexic disorder. Below are eleven ways to apply REBT to help individuals to disrupt their thinking/emoting/behaving cycles:
While these are just a few of the ways REBT can help those with anorexia, it is by no means exhaustive nor sufficient! However, those who treat people with anorexia, and the individual with anorexia, may find that the philosophical tenets of and daily use of REBT can support an overall comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatment plan. While Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and other Cognitive Therapies are commonly used in treatment, REBT offers unique philosophical angles which might be particularly useful to also teach this population, in conjunction with these and other therapies.
For more information on self or group teaching of REBT, check out The REBT Super-Activity Guide: 52 Weeks of REBT for Clients, Groups, Students and You.
REBT based recovery groups, such as SMART Recovery, work on motivation, urges, emotional regulation, and lifestyle balance can be address recovery issues. Websites which provide REBT self-help forms, such as REBTNetwork, can help those learning REBT to practice applying it to overcoming life’s challenges.