Listening to the Patient

I think something that’s gotta give in order to get to the other side of eating disorders, is the assumption (usually well meaning) that patients can’t/don’t know what is best for their recovery. In consequence, they are left feeling unheard and unsupported.

I do recognize that there is certainly a time and place for interventions when the patient is evidently unable to make decisions in their best interest. I mean to refer to circumstances where the person is clearly stable, exhibiting good judgment and functioning in other aspects of their life.

Unfortunately, I feel that often times, individuals who have done significant work and have genuinely connected with what they need are not granted full credibility or trust when voicing their opinions on the course of their treatment. This is not to blame anyone at all, but I think it is important to point out that each person’s recovery is unique, and that there is never a way for anyone — the most experienced professionals included — to determine the exact path that one’s healing will take. Therefore, I strongly feel it is important to actively listen to what the patient expresses and work together with them in order to help meet their identified needs, rather than having a more black-and-white approach where the patient is not given a much of a say. Sometimes, the label of the diagnosis and one’s history create an inequality in the way opinions are received in comparison to those of the clinicians. Because there is no single answer that will guarantee the recovery of an individual, I think it is critical to remember that while their illness and history may indeed prevent them from seeing clearly at times, the sufferers are also the ones that know themselves best, and more than anyone else could. When a patient is demonstrating responsible judgment, their illness and past should not take value away from their input on what they believe best fits their current needs for treatment. Professionals and patients seeking recovery are working towards the same goal and I believe that in order to achieve this common goal, it is important that the integrity, competency, and credibility of the sufferer not be diminished and that the patient and practitioner work cohesively in a way that will ensure the patient feels heard and supported when expressing their needs and asserting their opinion on what is best for them. As humans, we can only ever know our own truth and when appropriate, one should be supported in pursuing what they believe will support them to heal.

~ Anonymous

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