Prof Glenn Waller offering top tips in CBT Today, December 2010 points out that our enthusiasm for the client's recovery will not rub off on the client. He suggests that we should keep focusing on whether change is actually happening rather than expecting it to happen because someone says they are about to change or because we believe they should.
So how will you learn if recovery is actually happening? Perhaps you cannot be sure so you have to suspend your expectations and wait.
I have learned to be patient. When you have a partner, home, lifestyle or eating disorder it is really hard to change. One of my NLP mentors once told me that he takes the following line with addicts - "I insist absolutely that you keep your addiction until it has been replaced by something more useful".
For this reason, I don't reward what people expect me to reward. I don't reward weight loss in people who want to lose weight and I don't reward weight gain in people with anorexia and I don't pat someone on the back when they have had a good eating week. I prefer that people keep doing what they are doing and help them find some helpful options for thinking and doing things differently now and then. People simply cannot recover until they have reclaimed what their eating disorder has stolen from them or when they have build a resource which, by being absent, led them into the eating problem in the first place. This resource might be confidence, compassion, or a feeling of belonging. Whatever.
Recovery from an eating disorder does not happen on the therapist's agenda. It is like a baby learning to walk. You can't force it. When the baby is ready, he or she will just take off. If you try to hurry her, she will fall.