Eating disorders, like anorexia or bulimia, are the most fatal mental illness. Because of the increased risk in this population, it’s important that people struggling with them receive competent and comprehensive care. People with severe eating disorders often require the care of a therapist specializing in EDs as well as a dietitian and possibly case manager. They may also need inpatient or intensive outpatient care.
Therapists who work with clients who struggle with eating disorders have recommended the following books. You can also learn more from The Elisa Project and national
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8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb
This is no ordinary book on how to overcome an eating disorder. The authors bravely share their unique stories of suffering from and eventually overcoming their own severe eating disorders. Interweaving personal narrative with the perspective of their own therapist-client relationship, their insights bring an unparalleled depth of awareness into just what it takes to successfully beat this challenging and seemingly intractable clinical issue.
You can also find the accompanying workbook here.
Radically open dialectical behavior therapy (RO DBT) is a groundbreaking, transdiagnostic treatment model for clients with difficult-to-treat overcontrol (OC) disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, chronic depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Written by the founder of RO DBT, Thomas Lynch, this is the first and only session-by-session training manual to help you implement this evidence-based therapy in your practice.
Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too by Jenni Schaefer and Thom Rutledge
Jenni had been in an abusive relationship with Ed for far too long. He controlled Jenni’s life, distorted her self-image, and tried to physically harm her throughout their long affair. Then, in therapy, Jenni learned to treat her eating disorder as a relationship, not a condition. By thinking of her eating disorder as a unique personality separate from her own, Jenni was able to break up with Ed once and for all.
Inspiring, compassionate, and filled with practical exercises to help you break up with your own personal E.D., Life Without Ed provides hope to the millions of people plagued by eating disorders. Beginning with Jenni’s “divorce” from Ed, this supportive, lifesaving book combines a patient’s insights and experiences with a therapist’s prescriptions for success to help you live a healthier, happier life without Ed.
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works Paperback by Evelyn Tribole M.S, R.D
First published in 1995, Intuitive Eating has become the go-to book on rebuilding a healthy body image and making peace with food. We’ve all been there―angry with ourselves for overeating, for our lack of willpower, for failing at yet another diet. But the problem is not us; it’s that dieting, with its emphasis on rules and regulations, has stopped us from listening to our bodies.
Have you tried fad diet after fad diet, only to gain weight back? Maybe you’ve tried the protein diet only to move on to vegetables only? Raw almonds and coconut water every forty-five minutes instead of big meals? Or perhaps you’ve tried counting calories, but the numbers on the scale still don’t add up. If you are ready to throw in your hat and give up on dieting for good, take heart. You can enjoy food again—you just need to pay attention to your body’s natural hunger cues. Based on the authors’ best-selling book, Intuitive Eating, this workbook can show you how.
The Intuitive Eating Workbook offers a new way of looking at food and mealtime by showing you how to recognize your body’s natural hunger signals. Structured around the ten principles of intuitive eating, the mindful approach in this workbook encourages you to abandon unhealthy weight control behaviors, develop positive body image, and—most importantly—stop feeling distressed around food!
Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out–and Never Say Diet Again by Rebecca Scritchfield
This practical, inspirational, and visually lively book shows you how to create a healthier and happier life by treating yourself with compassion rather than shame. It shows the way to a sense of well-being attained by understanding how to love, connect, and care for yourself—and that includes your mind as well as your body.
Many therapists enjoy recommending books to their clients to supplement the work they are doing together. We also use books to help ourselves grow as people and practitioners. Remember though that books are never a replacement for real human connection or for therapy when it’s needed. If you find yourself needing a therapist, a great place to start is Psychology Today. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.