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Posts Tagged ‘group counseling’

I know the typical treatment program’s view on triggering language, behavior etc. I also understand why many of them have those rules.

My most recent treatment program had none of that. We were able (in some cases encouraged) to talk about specific behaviors we had engaged in and in fact some of the therapists would purposely used triggering language during groups. Why? Because that’s how the real world works. Outside the walls of treatment people talk all the time about food and fat and calories. The entire population doesn’t walk around thinking “I wonder if she has an eating disorder? Perhaps I should say this in a different manner or avoid it altogether.”

And you know what? I liked it. A lot.

I have had my times when things have “triggered” me–sitting in a psych lecture where we spent an hour talking about obesity and how to avoid it and then some time spent talking about eating disorders with triggering pictures and whatnot. It was an incredible difficult lecture, in a class of 1000 people, so I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who struggled with it. But would it have been okay for me to talk to the lecturer and tell her that? I don’t really know. She was just doing her typical teaching thing, 99% of the students probably didn’t have a problem with it, and how often in life am I going to get into similar situations where I don’t have the right to bring such subject matter up?

No matter how careful a person is and how much she tries to avoid triggers, they will happen. And if I am restructuring my life to avoid ED triggers, then I am not enjoying full freedom from the eating disorder.

If there is a time and place to learn to face and deal with triggering language, therapy is it. Surrounded by supportive people, with a chance to express and deal with emotions, one doesn’t have to just stuff it down. They are in a unique position to face the underlying issues about why that language triggers them. There are other ED sufferers that understand the difficulty in hearing it and there are professionals trained to help them work through it. I think that a treatment center that is willing to face the realities of this is very intelligent.

And now that I’m out of intensive treatment, I find that having to censor my thoughts is very difficult. It’s cumbersome and it distracts me from what I am thinking and feeling about the real issues I have. There’s always that voice in my head going “Can I say this? Should I say this? How much of this should/can I say?” and if that inner dialogue goes on long enough it becomes “Well, I don’t really know where the safe zone starts or stops, so I guess I won’t say anything.” And that is where a ban on triggering language moves from being a safeguard to being a liability.

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