Spiritual Issues and the Eating Disorder Client
The Spiritual Approach of the Selah House
At the Selah House, we want to be intentional in addressing the whole person as we provide help to those suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia andbulimia. Along with individual therapy and group therapy sessions, art therapy, writing group, equine therapy, psychiatric care, dietary and nutritional care, etc. we also believe in giving time to address common spiritual issues that many eating disorder patients face.
Richards et al (1997) lists the following as common spiritual issues that eating disorder patients face:
- Negative images or perceptions of God
- Feelings of spiritual unworthiness and shame
- Fear of abandonment by God
- Guilt or lack of acceptance of sexuality
- Reduced capacity to love and serve
- Difficulty surrendering and having faith
- Dishonesty and deception
We at the Selah House utilize this research to help guide us towards a holistic therapeutic approach, which includes one’s spirituality. We intentionally have two chapels during each week. Chapels are led by staff and these seven common issues aid in the direction of these facilitations. In addition to chapels, we also have aspirituality group, in which clients process core assignments that address these seven issues. For example, we have an assignment where clients articulate and conceptualize their image of God, especially any negative or shaming images that they hold. Images are conceptualized through journaling, drawing, painting, collage, story telling, pictures, etc. They are encouraged to process which beliefs support and impede their recovery and then are encouraged to reform any beliefs that do impede recovery.
Richards, P.S., Hardman, R. K., Frost, H.A., Berrett, M.E., Clark-Sly, J.B., & Anderson, D.K. (1997). Spiritual issues and interventions in the treatment of patients with eating disorders. Eating Disorders: Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 5, 261-279.