Distraction & Motivation
Distraction can be an incredibly useful tool throughout recovery for both you and your loved one. It can be utilised at times of distress and to prevent or dampen down negative thoughts after meals.
The following is a list of distractions that can help. However, it’s best to find out what works for your loved one (and yourself).
This is not an exhaustive list:
- Card or board games
- Films & box sets
- Making things: scrap booking, making jewellery, poms poms, knitting, origami
- Painting nails
- Drawing, painting and doodling
- Word searches & puzzles, such as Sudoku
- Thinking about what they want in the future (non eating disorder related, low pressure – e.g. holiday, day trips etc.)
Completing the “emergency care wall” with your loved one may helpful for you both to know what to do in certain situations and what will help.
Motivation is slightly trickier, particularly in the early stages of treatment. Ambivalence plays a huge role in eating disorders and often young people feel the eating disorder provides safety and security. It may be hard for them to feel motivated to fight the eating disorder or the task of doing so may just feel too large. Some young people may feel that they don’t have a problem and actually for them the “positives” of having an eating disorder can outweigh the downsides, therefore reducing their motivation to change. This can change in time though and you can play a role in facilitating this change. One way of doing this is to use techniques that come from motivational interviewing.
Principles of Motivational Interviewing
- Expressing empathy – using active/reflective listening- neutral and unemotive. For example, “I can see this is really difficult for you”
- Develop discrepancy – create discrepancy in the young person’s mind between their past/present behaviour and future goals. Evoking change talk from your loved one rather than getting into an argument. For example, “What would you like to be different about your current situation?”, “What will happen if you don’t change?”, “What would you like your life to be like 3 years from now?”.
- Examine consequences – encourage your loved one to reflect on the pros and cons of staying the same or eliciting change.
- Avoid argumentation – avoid any approaches that may elicit resistance or defensiveness
- Roll with resistance – let their resistance be expressed, don’t suppress it.
- Support self-efficacy – support their confidence in their ability to change.
Below is the “Cycle of Change” model. This is just to give you an awareness of the Cyle of Change. A young person does not have to be in “action” stage to start treatment and often, young people aren’t. This doesn’t mean change can’t happen but may reflect why you will have to be the driving factor behind recovery for the your loved one for a while.