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Common Communication Problems for People With Anorexia

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

Center for Growth / Anorexia Recovery in Philadelphia: Common Communication Problems.

In recovery from Anorexia, clients are encouraged to learn healthier ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings. This is a challenging process but well worth the struggle. People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa often appear to have a history of difficulty with both recognizing and communicating their need for emotional support. Through the process of therapy, many clients begin to realize that the Eating Disorder may have developed, at least partially, out of a need to communicate their painful feelings and unmet needs to others. These feelings often include anger, guilt, worthlessness, loneliness, fear, and feelings of inadequacy. The unmet needs often include a wish to be taken care of by family, friends, and significant others. The eating disorder may demonstrate a need for more attention and more power in relationships; People with Anorexia usually have had a lot of difficulty asking directly for what they need from others. This is why learning assertive behaviors are so important in the process of recovery.

Assertive behavior means expressing feelings such in a clear and productive manner. It means letting other people know how their behavior is affecting you and what your needs are in the relationship. Being assertive is a skill that takes practice to learn. It involves teaching your closest friends and family members how to meet your emotional needs. Remember that other people cannot read your mind so it is important to communicate in a clear and direct manner.

* Identifying your boundaries
* Telling other people how their behavior makes you feel by using I statements. (E.g. “When you didn’t call me back I felt hurt”)
* Telling other people what you need from them (e.g. “I would like it if you would sit with me after dinner because I usually feel anxious then).
* Setting boundaries (e.g. saying to a friend “it’s ok for you to tell me about your marital problems sometimes, but hearing about it everyday is too difficult for me”
* Learn how to say no to people when you need to
* Ask your friends, significant others or family members for a hug if you want one

For the Person Recovering from an Eating Disorder:

* Each day, practice identifying three things that made you angry.
* Join something you might enjoy such as an art class. Try to put yourself in positive social situations.
* Journal about your feelings.

Struggling with Communication? Help is available. Call 267-324-9564 Center for Growth / Anorexia Nervosa Treatment in Philadelphia.

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