About Eating Disorder Treatment – Eating Disorder Questions and Answers
Everything you must know about Eating Disorders and how we effectively treat them at CapeRecovery.
We treat all eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating amongst other things.
At CapeRecovery, we pride ourselves on correct placement of all our clients. This is the first step to a successful recovery from any addiction (drugs and alcohol), process addiction, dual-diagnosis issue or eating disorder and can be the make or break decision and a matter of life or death. We must remember, when talking about eating disorder treatment, that we are dealing with life threatening conditions and the way a person is assessed and treated at the initial stage is crucial. I have been highlighting the fact that many treatment centres over here in Cape Town and also many Psychiatrists and other professional are accepting clients who they are not experienced to treat and this concerns me as a nurse because there is a trend of putting profit before patient care and simply put, this practice is putting lives at risk. Below I ask the important eating disorder questions and we always seek advice from these guys regarding every client who has any kind of eating disorder or food addiction issue (including bulimia, anorexia and binge eating amongst others).
In life, we need balance in everything however, so rather than attack those who I believe are doing it wrong, we just try to do things the right way and as a result I have teamed up with the great team at Imani and I can stick to my belief that all eating related disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and all other food issues) must initially be assessed and treated at our specialist eating disorder clinic and never in mainstream rehabs.
I like the guys at Imani very much and our unique partnership means that our overseas clients can now receive the best, client centred treatment, for all eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, food addiction and all other related issues. They are also specialists in conditions that regularly co-exist alongside eating disorders such as addiction, mental health issue (including depression and anxiety) and psychological issues.
All about Eating Disorder Treatment – Eating Disorder Questions and Answers with Kathryn de Gouveia, Clinical Director at Imani
These are the eating disorder questions and answers, following a session that I had with Kathryn De Gouveia, the Clinical Director, an expert in the field and she knows everything about eating disorder treatment!
Simon: Hello Kathryn, thank you for meeting with me, I am going to ask you a few eating disorder questions and ask you about eating disorder treatment. You are Clinical Director at Imani, what brought you into this line of work?
Kathryn: Hi Simon! Growing up as a young woman in South Africa, I too was plagued by familial, peer and societal pressures of THIN. Thin is beautiful. Thin is successful. Thin is attractive. Having worked in the helping field for many years, I had often been confronted with the reality of eating disorders, with the reality of what many young woman and men go through in order to pursue “perfection”. I became curious as to why. I became curious as to why so many of us define ourselves by the way we look, what we wear and who we surround ourselves with. I have always had a curious mind and heart and I wanted answers. The search began in books, research during my honours degree, then with people focusing on the development of self esteem during childhood in my masters and found myself in a position where I was given a beautiful opportunity to work amongst those whose life passion was to help people find freedom from this illness. And then I fell in love. In love with the work. In love with the fight. In love with the idea that there is no one answer to the questions I had been asking.
S: What is your life like today?
K: My life today. I have a beautiful little family of three, about to be four! I work full time, with the most amazing support from Alison Bloomberg who owns Imani, my husband Frank de Gouveia and my nanny. All who understand and pursue wanting to help save lives and at the same time protecting our own. So life sometimes can be chaotic and busy, with each day bringing a new challenge. But all in all, my life is quiet, filled up with happy little moments enjoyed together with close friends and family.
S: CapeRecovery works by pre-assessment of each client, I get asked many eating disorder questions and refer them to you. As we know the lines between addiction, mental health and eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and all food related issues) are often blurred so we focus on the primary issue but also put a plan in place for all the surrounding issues. How do you address complex cases where all three exist alongside other factors such as trauma and family issues?
K: The most important aspect about eating disorder treatment is understanding that there is no case that is the same. Each person who walks through my office doors comes in with their own story, their own pain and their own journey into recovery. I have yet to see eating disorder clients who do not suffer with some form of dual-diagnosis and the emphasis at the beginning of treatment is trying to establish whether the anxiety, depression etc is a function of the eating disorder or whether the eating disorder serves to relieve the symptoms of the diagnosis. This is the most complicated process of treatment, and with the help of Dr. Bentley and other consulting psychiatrists and Julia Lovely we are able to establish this quite early into treatment. And this is where the treatment plan takes shape. Where the main focus gets decided but still remaining steadfast in treating the whole person. Addiction when it comes into play is treated the same as the behavioural elements of an eating disorder, as a symptom of an underlying problem/need. As a way of coping with this life, this world and all the things that the individual client has faced along their way. We focus a lot on the obsession as the compulsion for us is simply a way of finding reprieve from the obsession and the obsession a way of finding reprieve from underlying emotions. So whether it is sex, love, gambling, Shopping, substance, plastic surgery, cutting, bulimia, laxatives, restricting etc… we treat the behaviour the same. Where specific trauma work is required we would either bring in a consultant who specializes in this work, Jenny Twigs and Rob Arnott are two favourites or we would work with the individual in individual sessions ourselves. This is highly dependent on the severity. This would be the same for family work. We offer family therapy and family group work but where the systemic level of functioning is destructive and damaging we will often refer to professionals in the field to aid in this process.
S: Do you believe that enough is being done in terms of joint working and individual planning of client care or do you, like me, see a lot of organisations more focused on filling beds in their own place than in correct client placement, arguably putting people’s lives at risk?
K: Whilst the heart of many who started rehabilitation centres are in the right place, running a business can become the main focus and clients needs can become lost in this. It is sad but true.
S: I know that you are in agreement with me about why eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and food addiction or related issues) must always be treated in a specialist eating disorder clinic, can you give your reasons why?
K: One of the aspects that makes eating disorder recovery so difficult is the hidden nature of the illness. Yes, it is a progressive illness and the ability to hide the consequences can become more difficult as the illness progresses. But it is an illness that thrives behind closed doors and secrecy. Treating eating disorders in main stream rehabs can be dangerous due to the fact that staff will not be trained specifically in working with the eating disorder population and the rules will not reflect the complexities of each illness. Therefore the containment and structure that is required, even in early substance abuse recovery, can not be adequately provided and the treatment is more likely to be a band aid rather than a surgery changing a persons life. Another reason would be the beauty that is experienced when sitting with someone who can relate to your struggles, your pain and your demons.
S: At CapeRecovery we are focused on helping everyone who truly desires recovery, we make a plan if funds aren’t available, are you as an organisation prepared to work with us in order to provide part sponsored beds when the need arises?
K: We want to make treatment possible for all people who are suffering with eating disorders. This has always been one of our aims and one of the reasons we offer free assessments and advise to all who enquire. We do have a sponsorship program at Imani, which requires pre admission work as we want to ensure that those who apply will be making the most of the opportunity. But other than that, we will always try help where we can! We take this cost on ourselves as a company and have in the past decided as a team to place our Christmas bonuses towards certain clients sponsorship at Imani due to their motivation and willingness to get recovery.
S: I love Cape Town and the people in recovery, it is my belief that the people are the most important thing, alongside correct placement and treatment, of course. Do you believe that there is scope for those in recovery from all addictions, process addictions, dual-diagnosis issues and eating disorders to support one another as a larger recovery community?
K: One of the most important facets of maintaining recovery is building a life worth living. How do we do that alone? It is imperative that the eating disorder recovery community reach out and give back. By sharing stories, hardships and friendships. By walking together in this process. I believe it is impossible to do alone. I also believe that once we enter the rooms we never have to be alone again.
S: I’m going to put you on the spot here and ask ‘what is the most important bit of advice you would give a new comer in recovery of any kind?’
K: My best advise would be to get a sponsor as soon as you can, to have someone who can guide you along in your recovery process when you feel like giving up is one of the most important tools in finding and maintaining recovery. And of course…listen to your sponsor 😉