Human services professionals work on a daily basis to help their clients overcome difficult life challenges. From social workers to drug and alcohol counselors, these experts are trained to help their clients navigate through any trouble they are currently facing. As a result, if someone is potentially struggling with an eating disorder, you should be able to spot the symptoms and identify the next steps to help that client get treatment.
Recognizing the signs of an eating disorder and learning what you can do will place you in a better position to assist your clients in overcoming these illnesses.
Why it's important to know the signs of eating disorders
Part of the reason why so many people continue to struggle with eating disorders is because they keep their battle a secret and push away anyone trying to help. However, human services professionals are used to breaking through to individuals who build up walls around them. You are in the perfect position to reach out to a client you suspect is suffering and help he or she get the support they desperately need.
Work as a counselor to create relationships with clients that are unique. These relationships are often founded on difficult circumstances, such as when a client has a drug or alcohol problem, or a challenging family situation. Over time, clients learn to trust and rely on their counselors. The clients are then able to share their more vulnerable sides, such as any struggles with eating disorders.
If you suspect a client has developed an eating disorder, the level of trust a human services professional is able to build with a client can make a world of difference. A client who might be suffering from an eating disorder is more likely to open up about the internal battles and confide in a counselor. Therefore, it is essential to know the signs of an eating disorder.
Having an awareness of the symptoms of an eating disorder allows counselors, service workers and more to intervene and take immediate action. Immediacy prevents a delay in getting the patient the necessary help to address the illness. The sooner the professional can reach out to an individual with an eating disorder, the sooner treatment can begin, and a client can be on the road to recovery.
One of the most common eating disorders is anorexia nervosa. Each person with this illness displays the signs differently. However, if you suspect a client might be suffering from anorexia, a number of symptoms commonly appear. Most notably, individuals with anorexia have sudden and rapid weight loss. They may also experience yellowing skin, thinning hair or fatigue and dizziness. Someone with anorexia might display a number of different behaviors, too, such as demonstrating a loss of appetite, or consistently discussing body size or a fear of gaining weight.
With bulimia, an individual might manifest additional symptoms. The person will likely binge eat in a short period of time, and then make frequent bathroom breaks after every meal to purge their food. Other signs someone is suffering from bulimia include sores around the face or mouth, yellow teeth and receding gum lines.
Tips to treat clients with eating disorders
If you suspect a client has an eating disorder, there are a few things you can do to help with recovery. The most important tip is to create a safe space to connect with your client about your concerns.
Another important tip is to provide a number of resources to help your client find the assistance he or she needs. You probably have connections with other counselors and doctors who specialize in eating disorders that might be able to assist your client in ways you did not previously consider.
If your client is a younger, work with parents or guardians to not only inform them of the problem, but also build a support network so your client succeeds in recovery. It is essential that the people closest to an individual with an eating disorder are not judgmental. Your client needs to feel as though he or she is receiving help, and not being scrutinized.
By knowing the eating disorder signs and having a support plan in place, any human services professional will be able to provide their clients with the help they need if they are suffering.