Therapy: What Is It, How Do I Pay for It, and Where Do I Get It?
Several different types of therapy have been shown to be effective in fighting binge eating and other types of disordered eating. Talk therapy was key to my full recovery. First, a quick primer on some different types of therapy:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), has been shown to be very effective for people with bulimia or binge eating disorder—and also in other compulsive behaviors like skin picking or hair pulling. It focuses on impulse interruption and the importance of our thoughts in determining behavior. Much of it often revolves around cognitive distortions like black and white thinking.
Interpersonal psychotherapy, short-term therapy that focuses on how a person relates to other people, has also been shown to be very effective in helping binge eaters get better.
There’s also nutrition therapy, in which a registered dietitian, who is also skilled in talk therapy, works with you to help you get sane about food.
And even guided self-help, in which you have short sessions with a therapist or social worker as they guide you through the book Overcoming Binge Eating, which was written by CBT expert Christopher Fairburn, M.D..
Inpatient treatment. There are also lots of inpatient/outpatient treatment centers around the country that specialize in disordered eating.
How to find a therapist:
To find a good therapist, ask for referrals from friends or family members who may be in therapy or who have been to someone they like. Their therapist may not take you on—mine doesn’t like to treat friends or family members of her current clients—but they have lots of professional friends and colleagues at their fingertips and know who has a good reputation and who doesn’t. You could also ask for a referral from your doctor or ob-gyn. These resources can help, too:
NEDA has a helpline that’s open to calls Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30, Pacific standard time, where you can get information, therapist referrals, and help tracking down support meetings: 800-931-2237.
Part- and full-time college students often have free—or superdiscounted—access to group meetings or therapy sessions.
If you don’t like or click with someone after the first couple of sessions, it is completely within your rights—in fact it’s in your best interest—to try someone else. The person may not want to lose you as a client, but a good therapist will always respect your decision to move on to someone else.
How to pay for therapy:
If you go to a therapist who is not affiliated with your health insurance plan (there are a lot of psychologists and psychiatrists around the country who don’t take insurance at all; none of mine did), you will have to pay the fees up front, then send in your bills and wait for reimbursement. If you’re a student, you may also be able to get discounted or completely free therapy through your school’s campus psychological or health services.