Motivational Interviewing for Eating Disorders in Los Angeles, CA

At Trellis Recovery Centers, our motivational interviewing for eating disorders involves an empathetic, practical and short-term process that considers how difficult it may be to make life changes and provides support in this process.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing is a counseling method that helps individuals resolve uncertainty to find internal motivation that is needed to change certain behaviors. It’s also a guiding style of communication that utilizes directing (giving information) and following (such as being a good listener).

This was designed to empower clients to change by helping them identify their unique values and motivations and teaching them how to use this to uncover their capacity for change. Motivational interviewing is based on a curious and respectful way of being with clients that facilitates their natural process of change and honors their autonomy. 

Motivational interviewing is often used to address addiction as well as the management of physical health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. This intervention helps individuals become motivated to change their behaviors that are preventing them from making the choices that might improve their physical health and well-being. It is also beneficial in preparing individuals for more specific types of therapy or treatment as research has shown that this intervention helps those who start off unmotivated or unprepared for change in creating space and willingness for the potential for change. Motivational Interviewing can also be an appropriate type of therapy for individuals who are angry or hostile and that may not be ready to commit to change. Our Los Angeles based Motivational Interviewing can assist individuals move through emotional stages of change necessary to find their motivation.

Four Key Principles of Motivational Interviewing:

  1. Empathy: Expressing empathy towards your client increases the therapeutic alliance and rapport and shows your acceptance of your client, enhancing their self-esteem and allowing them to feel more comfortable in the therapeutic process.
  2. Discrepancy: Creating discrepancy allows the client to see that their present circumstances don’t fit into their highest values and future goals. Acknowledging this allows the client to gently see the necessity for change. 
  3. Resistance: Allowing resistance prevents a breakdown in communication between the therapist and the client and allows for the client to explore their own views without any external views, values, or goals being imposed on them during this process. It also allows the individual to explore what their barriers to change are.
  4. Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy is a crucial component in facilitating change. If a client believes that they have the ability to create change in their lives, this boosts their belief in themselves. This empowerment can fuel further efforts to creating change.
Man using motivational interviewing to treat his eating disorders

How Does Motivational Interviewing Treat Eating Disorders?

Our initial goal of Motivational Interviewing for treating eating disorders is to facilitate an increase in the client’s intrinsic motivation, commitment, and preparation for change. The facilitation of change is based on a gentle, subtle and responsive guiding process almost undetectable to an observer. Initially, the therapist helps the client develop discrepancies between their present situation and their desired goal. The subtle method used to initiate the discrepancy is used in replacement of overtly directive and confrontational methods. This self-motivated method allows the patient to develop their own advantage and disadvantages of change, assisting them in creating the change that needs to be made. 

Motivational Interviewing treats eating disorders with four basic technical devices summed up under the acronym O.A.R.S.: 

  • Open questions allow and facilitate the opportunity for the client to speak and fully express themselves without the constraint of a “yes” or “no” response. 
  • Affirmations: The therapist has a compassionate, accepting stance and reflects upon positivity and strengths moving towards more helpful behaviors with the client.
  • Reflections are used as an implicit mark of listening that may encourage a client to pause for thought as they are able to hear what they are/were thinking. This opportunity may lead to further elaboration of the client of their own thoughts. 
  • Summaries are utilized towards the end of the conversation in summing up the conversation or statement simply and concisely, focusing specifically on the development of changes, ideas, behaviors and intentions. 

For those with eating disorders, exploring how their eating disorder behaviors do not align with their future goals and creating space for behaviors that do can increase motivation for change.

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Benefits of motivational interviewing for eating disorders

Benefits of Motivational Interviewing for Eating Disorders

Motivational Interviewing is formatted to encourage clients to take control in order to prepare them for the needed push to change. Motivational Interviewing is instructive as well as collaborative, giving clients a greater feeling of agency and power in their own lives. 

In motivational interviewing change stems from 5 stages; maintenance, action, preparation, contemplation, and precontemplation. Motivational Interviewing assists clients move from one stage to the next, it allows them to see the need for change and to then have the desire to continue moving forward to the next stage of the process.

Motivational Interviewing is intended to provide the fuel that guides individuals from eating disorder behaviors to recovery behaviors. Many individuals struggle to initiate behavior change if they do not have a “why” behind doing so. In this way, Motivational Interviewing helps those in eating disorder treatment identify their own personal “why” behind seeking treatment and recovery and teaches them how to use this “why” to continually fuel recovery-focused choices.

Begin Motivational Interviewing in Los Angeles, California

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, motivational interviewing can be a beneficial therapeutic program to help treat the disorder. Contact Trellis Recovery Centers in Los Angeles, California, today to learn more about our programs and how we help men and women overcome their eating disorders.