Prof. Glenn Waller, eating disorder expert, has written a bunch of top tips for people working with the eating disorders in the Journal of CBT, December 2010. His first tip is “Monitor and work with physical and psychiatric risk.”
He points out that there is no substitute for a good assessment of such risk. Many psychotherapists don’t do this if they aren’t trained to work properly with these problems. They may say “it’s not about food, it’s about feelings”.
But many people have serious health risks associated with their eating behaviour. Bulimics risk heart and kidney problems. Binge eaters might be suffering from diabetes. Food is chemistry not just calories and ingesting large amounts of sugar puts enormous pressure on the pancreas. Purging leaches potassium from the cells, stopping them from burning energy. Being very thin can cause the inside of your bones to turn to jelly, interrupting the supply of the cells that keep your blood from flowing and your heart from beating properly.
People with anorexia are 57 times more likely to commit suicide than people of any age who do not have the illness. We have to consider them at psychiatric risk. We have to test them for clinically active trauma, for hidden cases of self harm, for depression or for exercise activity that may cause them to collapse.
People do not start developing eating disorders because they are vain or stupid. Losing or controlling weight starts off as a solution for feeling better; and most of us are delighted if we look slim or lose a little weight. But if dieting and weight management goes out of control, the solution becomes the problem that can kill you or ruin your well-being.
Prof Waller recommends you to be a good Assessor. Check out www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/IoP/Departments/PsychMed/EDU/downloads/pdf/RiskAssessment.pdf
But why not come on our specialist training courses. For expert CPD visit http://www.eating-disorders.org.uk/professional-training.html or call us on 0845 838 2040 to discuss your training needs.