Lynn Davilla Shields
LYNN DAVILLA SHIELDS, PHD
I have been a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist for 18 years. I work with males and females of all ages who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, Body Image Disorder and other related illnesses.
Typically I use a multi-disciplinary (team) approach. An eating disorders treatment team usually consists of a therapist, physician and a nutritionist. Sometimes a psychiatrist (for medication), group therapist, family therapist, or other professional is also part of the team. The patient and, if appropriate, the patient’s family should also be considered part of the team.
Eating disordered behavior is usually an attempt by a person (not necessarily consciously) to cope with some other negative situations or feelings in his/her life. Often people with ed’s will tell me that the behavior is actually in some ways helpful while at the same time makes life unmanageable as well as being extremely dangerous. I understand that it is hard to let go of an eating disorder as much as one might want to and I work with people to get to a place where they can begin to and eventually fully let go of their disorder.
Some other symptoms that go along with having an eating disorder may include: self harm, body dysmorphic disorder, body distortion (thinking you are big when in reality you are not), depression, anxiety, substance abuse, OCD, insomnia, and perfectionism.
There are also medical complications that can accompany eating disorders. Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and therefore it is extremely important that people with an e.d. are under the supervision of a medical doctor.
Research shows that being in the presence of an animal can lower heart rate and blood pressure and is associated with lower anxiety and depression. Increasingly animal assisted therapy is being done with war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and well as with Autistic individuals to help then learn to socialize better. With this in mind, I often bring my 4 -year old Bichon Frise, Puff, to work with me.
Puff can be shy at first and needs some time to get to know new people but once she does, she is a total love. She is also hypoallergenic (I’m actually allergic to dogs!), has hair not fur, and does not shed.
Some of my clients like to have Puff out in the office during sessions and others do not. Either way is just fine as she is happy to hang out in her crate. If you prefer me not to have Puff present at all, just let me know ahead of time and that will not be a problem.
Often when someone decides to go into psychotherapy it is because they believe or hope that they can make some improvement in their life so that they feel better. Sometimes it’s because an important relationship isn’t working well or because one feels lethargic, sad or overly anxious too much of the time. Another reason people choose to get into therapy is because they feel they do not have control over an important aspect of their lives—be it food, substances, mood or just about anything at all.
Sometimes people feel nervous or resistant about going into therapy because they think it means they are “crazy” or weak. Usually it just means they are human! Every one has challenges in their lives and seeking out help and being willing to face those challenges head on is something to be admired. Let’s face it, life can be hard and that’s true for everybody. There’s nothing wrong with getting some help.
Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Addictions are often genetically determined and are not a sign of a character flaw. Fortunately talk therapy, alone or in conjunction with medication, can usually help people recovery fully from these disorders.