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Eating Disorder Therapy San Diego, CA

Are you consumed with thoughts about food, exercise, or your weight?

Seeing an eating disorder therapist can help you finally feel at peace with food and your body.

Do you feel that so much of your time is spent dieting, counting calories, or exercising in order to try and reach a “goal weight”…yet you still feel empty, anxious, and with no satisfaction to show for it? Perhaps you find yourself in the kitchen late at night, eating until you feel sick; feeling like you just can’t stop and you don’t know why. You spend hours of each day thinking about food and your body. You turn down social events because the thought of feeling out of control around all of that food makes you too anxious. Or, you may still attend social events…but you are stuck thinking about food the entire time, and how you’ll need to burn off all of the calories that you ate later. Are you thinking, “If only I could just eat effortlessly and stop thinking so much about food and my weight…then I could live a normal life”? Imagine finally feeling at peace with food and your body. Whether you struggle with food restriction, binge eating, purging, over-exercising, poor body image, or a combination of these – eating disorder therapy can help.

You are not alone...

In fact, at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the United States. Disordered eating and poor body image can affect all ages, genders, and ethnic groups. Focusing on achieving the “ideal body” is incredibly prevalent in our society today, which includes a $60 billion dollar industry that promotes diet products and weight loss. We are surrounded by images and messages that tell us how we “should” look, and that we are failing and lack willpower if we do not complete our diet and reach that “goal weight”. These messages can come from the media, but also from family or friends. Fitness standards are also very high in sunny San Diego, where people roam the beaches the majority of the year. It makes total sense that you are feeling the pressure! Many, many people do. Unfortunately, it is so common that chronic dieting and excessive exercise are sometimes deemed as “normal” behaviors, when in fact, they are not normal and can be quite harmful both mentally and physically.

Eating Disorder Therapy Can Help!

Eating Disorder Treatment San Diego, CA Hand Reaching To Help Young Woman Disordered eating and excessive focus on weight/body is often used as a coping skill and a way to distract an individual from disturbing feelings or events that are taking place in their life. You may not even be aware of these feelings, especially if you have been dieting and hyper-focusing on food and your body for many years. Therapy can help you uncover these emotions and get to the root cause of why you feel compelled to focus on food and control the way that your body looks. We can work together to help you develop clarity, process these feelings, and develop healthier coping skills. Healing from an eating disorder through therapy can come with many benefits, including:

What Does Therapy for an Eating Disorder Look Like?

Eating Disorder Therapy in San Diego, CA Young Woman In Session Happy Treatment for eating disorders and body image can be incredibly effective and improve all areas of your life. In therapy, I start by providing a safe space for you to share any and all concerns that you are experiencing regarding your current struggles. We will explore and identify negative thought and behavioral patterns that are persisting in your life and that are no longer serving you. We will help you uncover hidden emotions that are causing the behaviors to persist, and process them fully. Then we will help you break these patterns and replace them with healthier coping skills. Together, we will take a look at your values and help you develop a plan to live fully in alignment with them – leading to more joy, ease, satisfaction, and confidence.

Why Book an Eating Disorder Therapy Session with Me?

Self emBody Therapy - Sarah Lawley, LMFT Headshot - San Diego, CA 92109 I have experience working with a variety of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other disordered eating tendencies. Experience and therapeutic approaches I use in the treatment of eating disorders, disordered eating patterns, and body image include:

  • Evidence-based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and elements of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
  • Intuitive Eating principles
  • Health At Every Size (HAES) philosophy
  • Collaboration with dietitians and primary care physicians to provide safe, well-rounded, and holistic treatment.
  • Experience and therapeutic skills gained as a previous Program Director at a residential eating disorder facility.
  • Certified in Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)
  • Currently working towards becoming a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP).

In addition to my professional experience working with eating disorders, years ago I recovered from an eating disorder myself. This is what inspired me to become a therapist in the first place, as I truly understand the suffering that these disordered eating behaviors can cause in our lives. I want to help clients recover fully and reclaim their lives – which I personally know is possible.

You CAN live your life free from anxiety, worry, and focus on food or your body...free to live your life peacefully on your own terms.

Contact me to schedule a 15 minute phone consultation and see if Eating Disorder Therapy in San DIEGO is right for you!

My Standard Rate is $150 Per Session (50 Minutes)

I do not accept insurance but I do offer Superbills that can be presented to insurance companies for reimbursement. Learn more about my rates and insurance.

You may have some questions about seeing an eating disorder therapist...

You don’t need to have a diagnosable eating disorder to deserve help and support. Whether your behaviors classify as a diagnosable eating disorder or not…if your current behaviors are preventing you from living a satisfying life, then you could benefit from therapy. Perhaps it feels scary to let go of the false promises that the diet industry sells us, making us believe that “everything in life will be better if you just lose weight”. Hyper-focusing on food and our bodies can be a way to cope and distract us from more painful emotions or situations that we may not know how to work through. However, this hyper-focus also keeps us from being fully present in our lives and from living our lives to the fullest. It is truly possible to learn healthier ways to cope and find body acceptance, regardless of how big or small your behaviors may feel. If you are wondering if you may have an eating disorder, you can take a free online quiz to get more information.

Maybe you have tried to figure this out on your own without therapy. You may have tried different things to help stop these disordered behaviors and constant thoughts about food and your body. Perhaps you are feeling frustrated, fed up, or unsure why you can’t just feel “normal” around food or in your body. Receiving therapeutic help can provide you with a different perspective and new set of skills that you may not have tried yet. I can also help you discover why these behaviors started in the first place, and how to effectively work through distressing feelings related to them. There is no shame in asking for help. I consider therapy to be like a “cheat code” in life in the way that it can help us heal and recover faster than we would have been able to on our own.

This is a very common and understandable concern. A surprising fact to most clients is that I rarely see this happen. I take an Intuitive Eating and Intuitive Movement approach in my work, which ultimately means that you will learn how to be in touch with your body’s natural hunger cues, fullness cues, and move in a way that feels good to you. Your body will find a place where it feels most comfortable, and eventually you will learn to trust in your body’s intuitive nature to eat and move in a way that helps you feel your best.
Your friends and family may not understand your desire to give up the focus on food and your body by receiving therapy. Unfortunately in our society today, disordered eating tendencies and focus on our body is incredibly common. Something as common as chewing gum to help curb appetite is actually considered to be a disordered eating tendency. Just think about it — how many people do you know that were taught that it is normal to constantly be trying to lose weight or “improve” their body? This may be common, but it is not a part of having a normal and healthy relationship with food and your body — and most importantly, it does not have to be your normal. They may not understand at first, and that is okay. Not everyone needs to understand your desire for self-improvement. If you would like to welcome your family or significant other in for a therapy session (or multiple sessions) to help them understand, that is welcomed and encouraged.
Perhaps it is not you that needs help with an eating disorder, but it is your child or a loved one. I offer eating disorder therapy for both adults and adolescents, and I would love to help. When working with adolescents, we participate in family sessions in addition to the individual therapy, in order to ensure that we are all on the same page and to achieve the best eating disorder treatment outcomes for your child. It can be scary at first, but you are not alone and there are many parents that seek out therapy for their loved ones. Visit the Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment for Eating Disorders (F.E.A.S.T) website for additional supportive resource if you are a parent or family member affected by eating disorders.

I will not be giving you dietary advice in therapy for eating disorders, as that is outside of my scope of practice as a psychotherapist. However, I always advocate for holistic care for the treatment of eating disorders, meaning that I will recommend you also establish a Registered Dietitian to work with you regarding the dietary aspect of eating disorder treatment.

Even if you are unsure if you have a problem with food and exercise, therapy for eating disorders may still be helpful for you. Oftentimes, we may not even realize or know if the behaviors we have been doing are problematic or potentially dangerous. If you are unsure if you have an eating disorder or need treatment, I recommend setting up a free phone consultation where we can discuss your current symptoms, struggles, and goals.

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating Disorder Treatment Therapist San Diego, CA Woman Sitting Sad Eating disorders are characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behaviors that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning. Not only do eating disorders have the potential to negatively impact ones’ relationships, work/school responsibilities, and self-esteem, but they can also possibly lead to physical health problems such as digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, heart conditions, and more. Even if you do not have a diagnosable eating disorder, disordered eating tendencies and hyper-focus on food and your body can also take a negative toll on your mental and physical health. Eating disorder therapy can help put an end to these detrimental physical and emotional patterns, so that you can feel free to live a life focused on joy, confidence, and passion rather than stress surrounding food and your body.

Main Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is diagnosed when an individual has severely restricted their caloric needs, thus leading to a significantly low body weight (less than minimally normal or expected based on age, gender, developmental trajectory, and physical health). This diagnosis also includes an intense fear of gaining weight and/or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain. Lastly, individuals with anorexia nervosa experience very negative body image and may not recognize the seriousness that their low body weight could be having on their overall health. Eating disorder treatment and therapy can be very helpful for treating Anorexia Nervosa, as we will get to the root of how the problem developed in the first place and replace the maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns with healthier coping skills.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is diagnosed when recurrent episodes of binge eating occur at least once per week for 3 months. An episode of “binge eating” can be defined as: eating an amount of food that is larger than what most people would eat under similar circumstances within a discrete period of time, and also a lack of sense of control over eating during the episode. The binge eating is not followed by compensatory behaviors to avoid weight gain. Eating disorder treatment and therapy can help those struggling with binge eating disorder because we will identify the underlying emotions that are facilitating the binge eating, process and work through these emotions, and replace the eating disorder behaviors with healthier coping skills.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is categorized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors (such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, and excessive exercise) to prevent weight gain. Individuals with binge eating disorder tend to be highly influenced by their body shape and weight. Eating disorder treatment and therapy can be helpful in treating bulimia nervosa, as we will replace the maladaptive patterns with healthier coping skills and help you to achieve increased self-esteem and a more positive body image.
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Eating Disorder Symptoms and Other Eating Disorders

Eating Disorder Treatments

Body Image Therapy

If you struggle with negative thoughts about your body, spend excessive time criticizing your body, and are often worrying about your weight, shape, and size…Body Image Therapy could be helpful for you. In Body Image Therapy, we will identify thoughts you have about your body and how these affect your mood, relationships, and daily life. We will explore and determine what triggers negative body image for you specifically. We will also learn and practice coping skills to combat negative self-talk regarding your body.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that examines the relationship between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It helps you to become more aware of negative thoughts so that you can view difficult situations in a new way and respond to them more effectively. CBT is often recommended as a first-line treatment for eating disorders, and positive outcomes while utilizing this treatment are common.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) incorporates both cognitive behavioral strategies and mindfulness strategies. DBT can help clients increase their ability to tolerate distressing emotions, gain further strategies to reframe negative thought patterns, and implement helpful mindfulness practices into their daily lives. DBT skills are taught by the therapist and clients can utilize them in between sessions to help self-soothe and tolerate overwhelming emotions.

EMDR Therapy

In Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, you are guided by your therapist to engage in bilateral stimulation of your eye movements while imagining distressing scenarios. The act of bilateral stimulation will help your brain to fully process the distressing feelings and events, shifting your attention towards more positive thoughts and helping anxiety to dissipate. EMDR Therapy has been shown to be effective to help with a variety of mental health conditions, including the treatment of eating disorders. EMDR therapy has also been shown to have long-lasting effects in terms of symptom reduction.

Collaborative Treatment Approach

Eating disorders are serious and can potentially even be life-threatening. With the right treatment and support, full recovery is absolutely possible. But in order to achieve full recovery, we must address all aspects of an individual’s life which includes their emotional, medical, and nutritional state. Therefore, I work collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team whenever possible. With consent from the client and/or parent (when necessary), I collaborate with the client’s dietitian and primary care physician to ensure that we are all on the same page and to facilitate positive treatment outcomes.
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Eating Disorder Therapy in San Diego, CA

If you’re ready to overcome your eating disorder and learn more about my eating disorder therapy services, please use the button above or call (619) 800-5393 for a free 15 minute phone consultation.

Self emBody Therapy
EMDR, Eating Disorders, Anxiety
4444 Mission Blvd Suite H,
San Diego, CA 92109
(619) 800-5393