A Blog by Dr Stephen Dansiger.
Now that the MET(T)A Protocol (Mindfulness and EMDR Treatment Template for Addictions/Agencies) has moved from being Addiction specific and now more geared toward all mental health and wellness agencies, Eating Disorder clinics are seeking to implement the protocol. In the same spirit and research-based foundation as with substance use disorders, eating disorders are increasingly being investigated and treated through the prism of trauma. When we look at the literature on eating disorders, as we would expect we see some genetic connections and predispositions, particularly with anorexia nervosa, while we also see it widely noted in the literature that disruptions in nurture can lead to disordered eating. Brewerton (2007) detailed the relationship between interpersonal trauma and eating disorders, and later studies have looked at the specifics of that trauma, focusing in on childhood physical and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. Anything that might have an impact on body image or overall self-worth can become a trigger for disordered eating. In addition, as a result of trauma driven etiology of eating disorders, we also see the possible development of comorbid PTSD. Sometimes though, the symptoms of trauma reveal themselves below the threshold of diagnosable PTSD, but must be treated nonetheless.
East of Los Angeles in Claremont, CA, an eating disorder clinic called Bright Road Recovery has become a MET(T)A Protocol Affiliated Center. They have had all outpatient levels of care for the last few years, and have recently added a residential level of care. All of their clinicians are trained or are training in EMDR therapy. Mindfulness already has been part of their curriculum, so our MET(T)A trainers are going to be deepening that aspect of their program both for the self-care of the staff and for the well-being of the clients. While the gathering of data is in its beginning stages, anecdotal reports from the therapists and other staff at Bright Road indicate that this trauma focused approach is already starting to have an effect on the overall milieu, while helping clinicians to see healing of trauma related symptoms of eating disorders. As a result, clients are becoming more able participate in taking care of the physical manifestations of their disordered eating. The training in and practice of EMDR therapy as the central therapy and orientation of the clinic is helping clinicians to focus more intently on the 3 Stage Model of Trauma Treatment as a guide to their work. As the work continues, we hope to see the same positive results in the treatment of Eating Disorders as we have in Substance Use Disorders by moving the needle from Trauma Informed treatment to Trauma Focused treatment.
About the Author:
Stephen Dansiger, PsyD, MFT
- ↑ Brewerton, Timothy D. Eating disorders, trauma, and comorbidity: focus on PTSD. The Journal of Treatment & Prevention. 2007;15(4): 285-304. doi:10.1080/10640260701454311
- ↑ Cowden, S. (2019, June 24). Eating Disorders and Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-influence-of-abuse-trauma-on-disordered-eating-1138267
- ↑ Emamzadeh, A. (2018, July 9). What Is the Relation Between Eating Disorders and Trauma? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-new-home/201807/what-is-the-relation-between-eating-disorders-and-trauma
- Q&A with Paula Shields from Asia’s first gender responsive trauma-informed addiction treatment for women.