The underlying components of eating disorders and OCD relate to feelings of anxiety and a drive for control. For example, a common worry with eating disorders is a fear of weight gain, which results in unhealthy attempts to excessively control one’s weight. While a common worry for OCD relates to anxiety about something bad happening, unless if the person controls their environment by doing or not doing specific actions. From a treatment perspective, exposure work targets both of the underlying principles (the anxiety and the control) by helping people learn how to systematically face their fears, build their ability to tolerate uncertainty, and learn to become more okay with not needing to always be in control. Since exposures are challenging, it is often essential for parents to be involved in helping their child with the exposure work.
Ritualistic behaviors are a common symptom that relate to both eating disorders and OCD. People engage in rituals, because in the moment, rituals serve to make the person feel less anxious and more in control. The problem with performing rituals is that they teach the person that they must ritualize in order to feel better. Moreover, while rituals “work” in the short-term, they are keeping the eating disorder and OCD very much alive and in the long lead to a more restrictive and difficult life. The following are some common types of rituals:
Only eating at certain times of the day
Safety words or images
Repeating actions a certain number of times or until it feels “just right”
Washing or cleaning rituals
Since the ritualistic behaviors are a core component of both conditions, the rituals impact both the person struggling with the eating disorder/OCD and also their loved ones. Therefore, it is incredibly common for family members to accommodate rituals in attempt to help their loved one. Unfortunately, the accommodation (which is a type of ritual) only serves to strengthen the underlying symptoms. Therefore, a crucial treatment component is to first understand the specific rituals the loved one engages in, along with the ways in which family members are accommodating the rituals. The next step is to learn how to systematically and effectively work on reducing the accommodating behaviors and the other rituals.
The aim of this workshop is to provide parents, who have a child (young, adolescent, or adult child) with an eating disorder and OCD, with a strong foundational background regarding the underlying mechanisms that cause and maintain both conditions. In addition, specific treatment strategies will be covered in detail.
The workshop presenters are Kimberly Glazier Leonte, PhD and Holly Harmon, LICSW. Kimberly is an OCD specialist, who previously worked at McLean’s OCD residential treatment facility, and provides continuing education workshops to help educate therapists on the assessment and treatment of OCD. Holly is an eating disorder specialist, who previously worked at Walden Behavioral Care’s inpatient, residential, and outpatient programs. She previously served as the Director of Education & Outreach for the Multi-service Eating Disorders Association. For further background information on Kimberly please click here and on Holly please click here.
The workshop is conducted on selected Saturday mornings. If you have any questions and/or are interested in attending the workshop please contact Kim at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 978.270.8925.