Group therapy is a rather effective approach in treatment of eating disorders. A group is one of the crucial aspects of treatment and may be very helpful for many people suffering from this condition. This treatment modality may not be suitable for every patient bur it is beneficial for majority of patients suffering from a variety of eating disorders. There are many positive things a group therapy provides with. They include education, universality, support and acceptance, interpersonal relations, confrontation and friendship.
Group therapy can successfully educate patients on many significant topics regarding nutrition, medical consequence of laxative abuse and assertive techniques. Furthermore, even interaction between group members as well as sharing of their experiences may be helpful in getting familiar with new information and ways of solving problems.
By sharing their feelings and listening to other group members, patients suffering from eating disorders become aware that they are not alone and that there are other people with the same or similar problems. Patients are different and their stories are various. However, they start to develop friendships and this has positive effects on one's self-esteem. The person starts to realize he/she is not crazy or alone and becomes aware that there is a solution to his/her problems.
Support and Acceptance
Many patients with eating disorders are rejected by their families, friends or colleagues. Within the group, they regain support and are accepted as equal members. By being accepted they easily face the problem and start to search for a solution. Support among members of the group therapy is essential for the progress.
Patients who have lost or even never acquired the ability to develop quality relationships may benefit from group therapy and restore the ability to communicate and share their feelings. Many positive emotions can be shared among members of the group and trust, love and understanding are only some of them.
Once the initial relations are established and members of the group start to trust and care about each other, the therapist in charge with the group facilitates the members to confront each other regarding many issues such as inconsistencies, self-destructive behavior and other issues of disagreement. The goal of this is to teach the members to challenge each other. This way members of the group will learn to like/love a person and still disagree or question a person at the same time.
There has been a controversy regarding whether members of the group should maintain outside contact. Initially therapists were against any outside contact between the members, while today they actually encourage support between people who are simultaneously treated and allow them to communicate outside the group.