Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tell Us Your Thoughts on Providers

Recently, on the Academy of Eating Disorders listserv, someone posted a reference for an article regarding the ideal characteristics for a clinician treating eating disorders, from the clients' perspective. I am waiting patiently to receive my copy of the journal, but thought this would be an interesting question to throw out to those of you who have participated in any type of eating disorder treatment.

I will confess, I tried to collect this same data. Sort of. About 18 months ago, I was training a group of therapists in eating disorder treatment, and decided to see if I could get our patients to anonymously tell us what they found most helpful about our approach, so then I could share this with the therapists-in-training. This was not a high-tech, experimental design, unfortunately. I put an empty tissue box in our waiting room, with a sign above it, asking for patients to put in their answers. It was a miserable failure.
I did my best to not take it personally.

So, I could speak to what we think works well in interacting with our clients, but reality is that we are biased by our own beliefs, and our clients are somewhat biased by their experience with us. As this blog moves along, of course, you will begin to see our views and beliefs on what has worked with the patients with whom we work. But first, we are interesting in your thoughts....

So, what characteristics have been important to you in your treatment providers?

I hope this does not become another empty tissue box. That would be so embarrassing! Though perhaps not as embarrassing as this.


  1. I've written on this before, a couple of times:

  2. Firm but gentle. Aggressively honest but respectful. Patient. My therapist has a way of treating me as a true individual. Just because 99 percent of the time a circumstance may be accurate of someone with my disease, she is not opposed to entertaining the idea that i may not be the same. With that said, she is also not afraid to push, and push hard, against things that i may believe to my core, that are truly toxic to my well being. My treatment team as a whole let me know they are human too. That they are not perfect. That they make mistakes. For me it is easier to take advice and listen to someone who is not “perfect.". Many of my providers have not had to deal with many of my circumstances....but you would never know....i could never tell...because i feel understood and not judged. Dont get me wrong we bump heads at times and dont always see eye to eye, but my trust in them never waivers. Ive always needed firm providers....firm in delivery....however, i never realized that while i needed a team that didnt let me run the show....i needed a constant reminder....that they push so hard because they care so much. They care so much that even if i hated them, it was ok, because they knew that by not leaving me or turning me away, that that was the very thing that would get me through.

    After a 15 year struggle these are the qualities that have saved my life and continue to do so.

  3. be consistent. i once had a tx who told me she'd fire me if i didn't gain x lbs by the following month. i didn't gain the weight, and she didn't fire me. i knew after that, that any threats she ever made would be hollow. and, i never made progress with her. not necessarily all her fault, but out dynamics played a part. so, i think providers following through with their consequences is an important thing, otherwise the sneaky ed will take advantage of the relationship.

  4. I agree with what you have all said! And I'm glad you have found providers that, uh, provide, what you need!

  5. Be honest and real with your clients. Clients may struggle with their own emotions and identifying where they are fake, but they are really good at being in tune with other people. The therapist(s) I have had the most success with has not been afraid to tell me how it is, say what it is like for them to experience me in situations, and to just be honest.
    Also, I agree with Brie. CONSISTENCY!!! This is key in many aspects of life and therapy especially. Eating disorder treatment especially.