Articles & Resources - Jennifer Jondreau Thompson, Ph.D. ~ Psychotherapist

Do You Feel
Alone in a Crowd?


8 Signs of Depression

 

Do you feel alone, misunderstood, and isolated even when there are people around you? Are you losing interest in your own life, friends, and family, or unable to feel good and positive about anything? If so, you might be suffering from depression.

Life has a tendency to throw us challenges, whether physical or emotional, when we least expect it. We can easily feel that it is unfair, that we don’t belong or that we are the only ones struggling and fighting through bad situations, one tragedy after another.

Read the complete Post on my Blog: "Telling Heals" »

Articles & Resources

 

 
Soulful Parenting

by Jennifer Jondreau Thompson, Ph.D. - LPC

“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart and personal substance.”  - Thomas Moore

Soulful Parenting requires that you to step into your parenting experience with an openness and willingness to accept that parenting is difficult. The concept of Soulful Parenting came to me when I was having a hard time with my four year old son. Physically and emotionally exhausted, I was unsure if I could endure another day. I realized I needed to open up the experience of parenting him. That is when I thought of Soulful Parenting. Simply saying those two words relaxed me immediately. My shoulders loosened up and my anxiety decreased. If those two words could help me so quickly, what more could I do with this idea? I began writing what those words meant, and found myself moving from despair to hope. Hope that this experience of parenting is about more than something to just be endured. Hope that many things can be learned about this experience. Hope that my child will turn out okay.

Yes, parenting is a hard job, but it comes with an opportunity to learn not just techniques and skills, but to also learn about yourself. To learn how your child can provide opportunities for your growth as a parent, and as a human being. I emphasize three key components in this process: nurture vs. nature, larger stories, and the role of our village.   Read entire article >>

 
Implications for Counseling Women Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder

by Jennifer Jondreau Thompson, Ph.D. - LPC

 

Treatment Modalities

When working with a woman with BED, a feminist psychodynamic therapist would ask, “What is this woman really hungry for?” A self-psychologist would ask the question, “What void (need) is this woman trying to satisfy with food?” And, a behaviorist would ask, “What can this woman do to better manage her disordered eating?” The data from the present study provided insight into the best types of psychotherapy needed for women in recovery from BED.

Feminist therapists contend that counseling provides an opportunity for women to reclaim their voice. (Gilligan, 1991; Orbach, 1998). Wastell (1996), a counselor and author, believed that counselors working with women should emphasize the importance of connectedness and assist their clients in finding their lost voice.

Important parallels can be made between Wastell’s article and the themes of the present study. The data holds significant evidence to support the claim that women have lost voices and that these voices, once heard, lead to freedom from a particular disorder, in this case BED.

The 10 participants in this study all discussed the importance of coming out of isolation and shame about their disorder by talking to someone about their experience. To begin recovery, they needed to tell their story and be heard. Gilligan (1991) encouraged this by stating that a counselor’s job is to “strengthen healthy resistance and courage, to help women recover lost voices and tell lost stories, and to provide safe houses for the underground” (Gilligan, 1991, p. 29).

Following Gilligan’s (1991) lead, the therapist and client must develop an authentic relationship, a relationship where the client feels heard and understood and is able to open up with her “stories from the underground.” Ideally a woman can practice having a voice (i.e., speaking up, setting boundaries, and dealing with emotions) with her therapist, which will then enable her to speak up with others.

The theoretical model of self-psychology supports the development of an authentic relationship between the client and therapist. Self-pscyhology aims to to strengthen the self. The therapist’s role is of utmost importance and it is important that the client experiences a therapeutic environment in which she feels respected, accepted, and understood. In self-psychology, the therapist removes herself from the work of the patient. The therapist neither self-references, nor directs the patient in a particular direction. The work is up to the patient, and the therapist’s primary role is to create an environment that is safe and trusting so that the client will feel comfortable to disclose.

Group work with women with BED could be a helpful treatment modality. The women in the present study all expressed some level of shame and isolation associated with their disorders. Groups are a supportive environment, as demonstrated by many of the study participants’ involvement in OA and group counseling. Counselors can facilitate groups that integrate many of the components mentioned by the participants as helpful in their recovery processes: addressing physical and physiological hunger, coping with emotions, and incorporating spirituality into recovery.

 

Counselor education

Of the 10 participants, 2 entered therapy/counseling with the intent of addressing their binge eating. Four participants participated in therapy to deal with other issues and the binging emerged as a secondary issue. The remaining 4 participants began therapy after they had addressed their binge eating and had an understanding of some of the core issues related to their disorder. Thus, women in counseling settings may have issues with food and body that they will not bring to their counselor’s attention. A counselor working with women may want to include questions specific to nutrition and to how their client copes with stress, feelings, and relationship issues in their initial assessment/intake.

 

Family Education

When treating an adolescent with an eating disorder, most often the family is included in the treatment. With adults, however it is up to the client as to how much her family is involved. The participants in the present study felt a variety of ways about family members and the recovery process. Many felt that because their families did not understand the disorder they were unable to be helpful. Two women confided in family members when they were teenagers, one to her mother, another to her sister. Participants felt their significant other (either spouse or partner) was the best source of support. One woman is grateful for how her husband appreciates and loves her body just as it is. Another woman felt her partner’s support when at a social event where food is present. Counselors working with women with BED might want to consider about the significant other as a valuable tool in recovery.

 

Educating Health care Professionals

Several of the women in the present study reported that health care professionals lacked awareness of the nature of BED and could not address their health and psychological needs. The complex nature of BED symptomatology may cause confusion with other eating disorders, especially if a woman is not significantly overweight. Clinicians and medical providers, informed of the unique etiology and treatment needs of BED, would contribute to a higher rate of early intervention. Mental-health practitioners treating women who demonstrate BED-related symptoms can support their clients by providing an opportunity to address the psychological and social issues related to the disorder. 
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How Women with Binge Eating Disorder Perceive the Value of Social Support in Their Recovery Processes

Jennifer Jondreau Thompson, MA- Ph.D. Candidate

 

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how women recovering from binge eating disorder perceive the value of social support in their recovery processes. A phenomenological research model was used to illustrate 10 women’s experiences. All 10 participants, ages 31–53 years old, had been engaged in therapy for a minimum of 1 year and had not had a binge eating episode for at least 6 months prior to the interview.

The data for the study were obtained through in-depth interviews. Themes that emerged included that a) interpersonal relationships are perceived as important in the recovery process; (b) a spiritual connection is perceived as important in the recovery process; (c) health care professionals are perceived as both helpful and unhelpful in the recovery process; (d) 12-step programs are perceived as helpful in the recovery process; (e) family members are perceived as both helpful and unhelpful in the recovery process; (f) understanding emotional triggers is perceived as helpful in preventing binge eating. These themes, consistent with the literature in the field, suggest that social support is a critical component of the recovery process. Participants feel most comfortable reaching out to others who are non judgmental and understand the complexities of binge eating disorder. These individuals are typically friends, therapists, nutritionists, and 12-step group members.

Binge eating disorder can be a chronic and potentially lifelong health problem. A qualitative study offers an in-depth perspective and can promote a deeper understanding towards the development of effective treatment models. Implications for counseling women with binge eating disorder, and recommendations for future research.

 

Statement of Problem

Social support, defined as inpatient or outpatient therapy, support groups, 12-step programs, and others, have been studied at length for anorexia and bulimia nervosa (Beresin, Gordon, & Herzog 1989; Lippi, 2000; Milstein, 2000; Rorty, Yager, & Risotto, 1993). Results have demonstrated that these studies have several things in common. First, they are all qualitative in nature and attempt to provide in-depth information about the recovery process from eating disorders. Second, social support was continually cited as helpful and influential in the recovery process from an eating disorder. Third, each study explored specific social supports and their role in the respondents’ recovery processes.

Although studies have been conducted to research the etiology and treatment of this disorder (Halmi, 2005; Marcus & Kalarchian, 2003; Melbourne Academic Mindfulness Interest Group, 2005; Spitzer et al., 1993), little research has been conducted focusing on the subjective experiences of individuals recovering from BED. The present study seeks to explore what social supports are available to women in recovery from BED and whether or not these supports benefit women who have this disorder.

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