A person experiences nervousness in many different situations. The nerves can hit before you step on stage, the first time you get behind the wheel or when the harness of the roller coaster car locks into place. You might be nervous asking for a promotion or practicing a new skill for the first time. To a certain extent, nerves can be beneficial, keeping you on the lookout for potential threats to your safety or sanity. Other nerves can arise simply because of a looming “unknown.”
When you don’t know what to expect from something, it’s easy to be fearful or nervous. On the other hand, knowing what you’re getting yourself into, so to speak, whether from previous experience or the stories of others, gives you a peace of mind when encountering new situations.
Like any other form of therapy, it’s easy to experience nervousness when experiencing eating disorder treatment for the first time. We’re here to shed a little light on what to expect during a typical Seeds of Hope treatment day for our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP).
Arrival and exercise in the morning
Clients arrive at their treatment center (we have locations in Exton, Paoli and Philadelphia) around 9:00am for an hour of breakfast. Most likely you will eat with your treatment team and some peers, providing a supportive atmosphere during the meal. After the allotted hour for breakfast, you will participate in an open process group from 10:00 – 11:15am. This can include a discussion or journaling period, where you’re able to process and unpack any emotions, thoughts or difficulties which arose during and after breakfast. It’s a time to acknowledge victories, note moments of struggle or forecast your response the next time you experience similar thoughts or feelings.
Following open process, you will participate in 45 minutes of a scheduled activity. These activities vary based on the day of the week, but typically cycle through yoga, art therapy and/or nutrition-based education.
Yoga lessons give you the opportunity to exercise through poses that help you practice breathing patterns to calm anxiety and restore balance to the mind, as well as meditative techniques to relieve depression and anxiety. Yoga has been noted to promote self-awareness and self-confidence, and is therefore an integral part of eating disorder treatment.
Art therapy is a creation of the visual arts or music, where you are encouraged to process and explore emotions and your overall mental state through the creation or experience of art. Art and music therapy boost self-esteem, self-expression and relieve stress in a healthy way.
Nutrition education teaches the nutritional needs of the body, healthy eating patterns to implement in daily life, and ways to prepare well-balanced meals. It is guided by clinicians and nutritionists and is one of the most important aspects of eating disorder treatment.
Lunch and treatment in the afternoon
From 12:30 – 2:00pm, you will participate in lunch and a post meal check-in with a clinician, which is similar to, but not as lengthy as, open process after breakfast. From 2:00 – 3:00pm, depending on the day, you’ll participate in nutrition therapy (if not already offered in the morning), CBT, DBT, holistic or Friday’s weekend planning sessions.
CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, uses the connection between thoughts and behaviors to help you create healthy habits. Through the exercises of CBT, you will be given the tools to identify and challenge patterns of negative thought, in addition to developing healthy coping mechanisms.
DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, is a version of CBT and is highly effective in eating disorder treatment. DBT teaches mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation as a means to overcoming the struggles of ED and getting back on the right track to health.
Holistic therapies can include techniques of tapping into the mind-body connection, such as trauma-sensitive yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, acupuncture, reiki and aromatherapy. The uniqueness of holistic practices with its focus on healing the entire person (mind and body) are particularly effective in ED treatment, as eating disorders attack the entirety of the person.
Weekend planning offers you the chance to meet with a therapist to discuss your weekend plans from a therapeutic standpoint: how you will handle meals at home, what you will do if you’re invited out with friends, when and how you will exercise, what activities you will enjoy in your free time. By creating a structured plan ahead of time, the relative unstructured realities of everyday life won’t be able to catch you off guard.
Eliminating the mystery
Committing to attending eating disorder treatment is vulnerable and scary enough as it is – there’s no reason to shroud mystery over what a typical day in treatment looks like. And of course, there will be an ebb and flow to what each day holds in particular, but the overall structure will remain constant for the sake of peace in all clients.
If PHP treatment for eating disorders is something you’d like to consider for yourself or a loved one, reach out to Seeds of Hope today. Call (610) 644-6464, and allow our counselors and trained staff to provide you with support and care as you make mental and physical health a priority.