Exposure and Response Prevention for Eating Disorders in Los Angeles

A big part of having an eating disorder is being afraid during stressful events related to the illness. As well, many people live in fear of what could happen or when anticipating an upcoming event. Exposure and Response Prevention therapy, also known as ERP, helps people with eating disorders and a host of other anxiety-related mental health disorders. A trained therapist guides the person through the fear-inducing activity while providing support and effective coping skills. Trellis Recovery Centers offers exposure and response prevention for eating disorders in Los Angeles, California to help our patients navigate stressful events like eating at a restaurant and shopping for food.

What is Exposure and Response Prevention for Eating Disorders?

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a type of therapy used to treat anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, and related disorders. A therapist trained to provide ERP helps a person confront anxiety-producing thoughts images, objects, and situations that typically provoke feelings of anxiety. Repeated exposure helps the person practice self-soothing techniques and learn to recognize they have control over their reactions. In turn, this helps reduce stress related to the things the individual finds anxiety-producing, making it easier for them to overcome their fears. 

Eating disorder behaviors are often rooted in fear and anxiety. For this reason, we include exposure and response prevention for eating disorders in Los Angeles, CA as part of our program of therapies. It proves helpful in allowing patients to confront the actions and feelings that make them anxious with the benefit of having a trained therapist present. The individual learns they have the power to engage in activities they used to feel were too triggering and not turn to eating disorder behaviors to cope.

Group in exposure and response prevention for eating disorders at Trellis

What to Expect During Exposure and Response Prevention for Eating Disorders

When someone participates in our exposure and response prevention for eating disorders in Los Angeles, California, they will receive the full support of a trained therapist. The individual creates a “Fear Hierarchy” list in which they identify what food and body-related fears they have and rank them according to the ones that cause the most to least amount of fear. From there, the person is exposed to the situation or event while supervised by the therapist. Patients learn that the worst outcome is not always inevitable and they have the power to overcome their fears.

Situations a person may be exposed to include:

  • New and diverse foods
  • Going to a restaurant
  • Going to a farmers’ market
  • Clothing stores
  • Dressing rooms
  • Movement
  • Cognitive explorations of fears and assumptions

For example, a person may be afraid to go out to eat and order a meal. The therapist will sit with them while they are at a restaurant and help them get through the event. This will include acknowledging the fear the person experiences while also making choices that support recovery, rather than caving to the fear. 

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Benefits of ERP for eating disorders experienced by this woman

Benefits of Our Exposure and Response Prevention in Los Angeles, California

We provide exposure and response prevention for eating disorders in Los Angeles because of the many benefits it provides to the men and women we treat. Being in a residential treatment center provides a certain amount of safety for patients as well. For example, they are not allowed access to things like diet pills or left unsupervised so that they can restrict or binge eat food. However, it’s not helpful for someone to avoid any fear-producing situations because then they return home unprepared to deal with them. Using ERP allows the person to face and overcome fears with the guidance and safety of their therapist. This helps teach people to face their fears long after they leave our treatment center and make choices that support their recovery.

Another benefit is that we know treatment cannot happen based on a cookie-cutter approach. Each person we treat has their own history and areas in which they need focused assistance. As a result, we create a unique ERP plan for each person based on their specific needs. We use their Fear Hierarchy list to understand which situations they need support in tackling. While some of the events feel emotionally challenging, they ultimately empower the person. With each step they take in facing fears, those fears become less powerful and ultimately can be overcome.

Begin Exposure and Response Prevention for Eating Disorders in Los Angeles, CA

People living with an eating disorder also live with constant fear related to certain food or body-focused activities. A simple trip to the grocery store or going out to a restaurant with their family can cause feelings of panic. Trellis Recovery Centers uses exposure and response prevention for eating disorders in Los Angeles, CA to help our patients revisit how they experience different activities related to several activities. Our skilled therapists offer effective and compassionate care that helps turn people’s lives around.

Would you like more information about ERP therapy and how it can help you or someone you love? Visit our admissions page and let us talk to you about how we help individuals overcome their eating disorders.