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Integrating The Eating Disorder Self

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

One of my core beliefs in helping people recover from an eating disorder is that individuals with an eating disorder have a Healthy Self inside that has been taken over by another ego state I call, "The Eating Disorder Self." The goal in recovery is to strengthen the Healthy Self and get it back in control again. When this happens the eating disorder self is no longer necessary, it is out of a job and is integrated back into the core self. When recovered, the person no longer experiences two parts of self but has become whole again.

In my coaching certification course I ask students to briefly explain the Integration process and I recently had a coach who described the process but ended with a piece on "Integration form the clients point of view. I wanted to share here part of what she wrote:

1. As a coach, your job is to help people with an eating disorder not only get rid of their eating disorder behaviors, but also integrate their Eating Disorder Self back into their Healthy Self to become one whole person again. Explain the concept of integrating the Eating Disorder Self utilizing each of the stages of integration.

Integration is the idea of showing the client that they have a healthy self and an eating disorder self. At first the client may come thinking they are their eating disorder and it’s “just who they are.” Then comes an awareness of two thought patterns, with the eating disorder in control of the client. From the awareness stage, comes challenging the eating disorder thoughts and behaviors from the healthy self voice.

The 10 stages of integration through the eyes of a client:

1. I am my eating disorder

2. There is a part of me that is healthy, but it can’t overpower my eating disorder.

3. My healthy self exists and I look forward to the day it’s stronger.

4. I’m learning A/B/C from my eating disorder

5. I’m in battle with my two selves.

6. My healthy self is stronger.

7. I need to be on top of my eating disorder thoughts.

8. I’m not engaging in eating disorder behaviors, but I can’t stop other behaviors like body checking.

9. I’m feeling really strong but a part of me is worried my eating disorder self will get stronger.

10. The two selves have integrated into one. I am me. I am here. I am whole.

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