Mothers, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters call me to make appointments for the woman they care about who has an eating disorder.
These people love and are worried about the suffering person. They may be looking for ways to convince their loved one to go into treatment. They may be helping that person by doing some scouting to find out what may be available in terms of treatment, and during their research they found me.
However, only the person who will actually be in treatment can make the appointment.
Adults with eating disorders can be resistant to getting help, and an adult cannot be forced into treatment. If you are trying to help someone who is unwilling to move toward recovery work, then I will suggest various kinds of support and perhaps therapy that might be helpful to you.
If you are doing scout work for a person who is willing to go into treatment then I will have a conversation, sometimes quite lengthy, with you. I'll answer your questions and offer information that seems relevant to the situation you describe.
The conversation can be lengthy because I will tell you that if the woman makes an appointment with me, this is the last conversation you and I will have. Once an adult makes an appointment with me I become that person's psychotherapist exclusively. I will refer family members to other clinicians if needed.
For deep and effective work between my client and me to unfold, the client must know that what she says and feels is private, that the space is hers, that I will honor and safeguard boundaries, and that she doesn't have to share or reveal anything to anyone unless she so chooses.
If you are calling for someone else I know you are suffering. I know you are probably in a delicate situation and are doing your best to encourage your loved one to get help without offending her. You want to find the best person possible who can help her, and you don't know who might be. You call me with hope and courage.
I respect you for reaching out on your loved one's behalf. I will be as sensitive and straightforward with you as I can be.
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Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.
She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder
Appointments are virtual.
For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at