Eating disorders are among some of the most life-threatening mental health conditions. They are often compounded by other symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and addiction and are extremely difficult for family members of the sufferer to understand and provide help.
Harmony Place Monterey is a mental health treatment center on the central coast in Monterey, California. They provide specialist treatment for addiction recovery and related mental health issues including dealing with eating disorders.
The programs for addressing eating disorders were developed by Dr. Mark Schwartz of Harmony Place Monterey in consultation with other staff psychologists. Dr. Schwartz received a degree in Psychology from John Hopkins University and has over 30 years of experience in the addiction field.
In the area of eating disorders, the following diagnoses are treated: bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. A patient is initially evaluated for medical and psychiatric conditions as part of an admission assessment. Subsequently, a psycho-social evaluation is undertaken that looks at individual and family factors that may contribute to the patient’s symptoms.
Patients’ treatment includes a minimum of six hours a day of individual and group behavioral therapy services. This includes individual therapy sessions two or three times a week, family therapy (if required), and therapeutic community group assignments and psycho-education.
The specialized treatment includes monitoring of weight and vital health statistics, supervised meals, social skills training, eating disorder group meetings bi-weekly, and body image meetings weekly. Evidence-based treatments that are used for treatment include Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization, and Reprocessing Therapy and Internal Family Systems therapy.
The approach developed by Dr. Mark Schwartz of Harmony Place Monterey aims to identify the critical issues in a patient’s life that are the underlying causes of the eating disorder. By identifying their fears, factors that hold them back, early traumatic incidents, and other issues patients learn to confront these issues through self-examination as the first step to recovery. They are taught to practice new patterns of thinking to face those fears and life skills that help in practical ways in their day-to-day lives.
Dr. Mark Schwartz of Harmony Place Monterey believes that eating disorders, while a distinct diagnostic category, have many elements in common with addictive behaviors in general. The acts of bingeing and purging, for instance, lead to relief for the patient that may have been initially pleasurable. The secrecy and denial associated with these activities typically increase as the disorder escalates and becomes compulsive. Despite the apparent dangers when taken to extremes, the patient continues with the behavior similar to a drug addict’s need to satisfy his intake even when faced with the consequences of the loss of family, employment, and sometimes the loss of their lives.
The Eating Disorder Program at Harmony Place Monterey aims to help patients gain control of and ultimately stop damaging behaviors including bingeing, restriction, purging, and their obsession with food, weight, and body shape. Patients are frequently prone to relapse and the treatment team at the center specializes in helping with these lapses and offers support to help the patient achieve long-lasting recovery outcomes.
While Dr. Schwartz leads the team at Harmony, the staff there are all dedicated professionals who take pride in offering professional, effective treatments for anyone experiencing the anguish of an eating disorder. They aim to help patients examine the way they are living their lives and to help them become more grounded and create in themselves a higher capacity to love – to give and receive love expansively and fully and lead the best life possible.