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As Eating Disorder Specialists, we recognise the impact that transitions can have on our clients and respond to those experiences through treatment.

Eating disorders tend to arise during transitional phases. Moving home, schools, between different mental health services, or even experiencing menopause – all of these experiences can place a strain on the individual as they adjust to new lifestyles and routines.

In essence, when our world changes considerably, be it through the experience of the pandemic or entering a new chapter in life, we can experience a feeling of great loss or fracture and look outside of ourselves as a means of coping.

Navigating transitions in treatment

As Eating Disorder Specialists, we recognise the impact that transitions can have on our clients and respond to those experiences through treatment.

Some of our clients may have had difficult experiences in past treatment settings and subsequently lost faith or hope in recovery. Others may have found themselves falling between the cracks as they move from child and adult services, or have struggled to find a treatment service since moving away to university.

We understand that many eating disorders develop as a means of coping during these transitional phases. They “help” us to feel a degree of certainty when the rest of the world would otherwise feel uncertain and unsafe.

Because of this, our approach places a lot of emphasis on the individual experience of every client; tailoring programmes according to their needs, and always asking for their feedback around what they’re finding challenging in recovery.

Our “stepped approach” allows clients to transition through the programme, starting with more intensive treatment in the beginning, and then gradually “stepping down” to less support as they progress in their recovery journeys.

Essentially, we look at all aspects of life that feel uncertain and daunting and find novel ways of implementing a degree of certainty and safety around them. To us, having a tolerance for uncertainty and learning to keep grounded during transitional periods is a skill that can be learnt.

How our team supports clients through transitions

Take moving away to university as an example. We know that students suddenly undertake a lot of responsibility for their lives and that our clients may struggle to do things like, go food shopping, plan ahead, socialise or eat out. As such, our Occupational Therapy team will work with clients to specifically address these challenges.

This goes hand and hand with our Dietetic team who work with each individual client to develop a food plan that is both manageable and related to their individual goals for recovery.

The therapeutic aspect of our treatment supports clients by allowing them space to process the experience of transitions. As we said above, when life throws obstacles in our path, we often need someone to hear and hold our experience, to then help us to process and heal from it. Because of this, the themes and topics that we focus on in group therapy sessions change week-on-week, adapting to the collective needs of our clients.

Even the transition in and out of treatment on a daily basis is respected at Orri. Each morning we start with a “check in” which allows people to briefly share their inner experience so that everyone is informed about how people are feeling and what’s themes could come up or play out during the day. We close the day of treatment with a “check out”, ensuring people are feeling safe ahead of their evenings or weekends.

In this same way, our newer online treatment allows people to experience transition and be continually supported by Orri throughout. Being able to offer specialist treatment virtually means that we can walk alongside individuals as they move away, go abroad, start new jobs or navigate other turbulent times. It provides a level of agility that typical face-to-face treatment can’t.

Recovery itself is a transition

There’s also a respect for the transitions that happen within the recovery journey – and that recovery itself is a transition to navigate.

Eating disorders impact all areas of our lives: work, relationships, family life, etc. So once we begin to make progress, we’ll spot our recovery in areas we never knew were impacted by our eating disorder.

Our bodies may change as we start to nurture them with food we’d previously denied ourselves, we may expand on our “safe foods” and allow much more freedom and creativity to our day-to-day lives. We walk alongside our clients as they navigate these shifts.

“There are loads of transitions that come with recovery: a different way of eating, different body shape and size – but they are all positive changes.” – Alumni Client

Do you have any questions? Get in touch with us!