Counselling and therapy for Eating Disorders in children and teenagers

Eating Disorders in children and teenagers

Most children have specific food preferences and these preferences may change over time, leading parents to consider initial changes in eating patterns as normal. However, if disruptions in eating behaviours persist and they start to impact on a young person and their family’s lives, it may be classified as an Eating Disorder.

Eating Disorders are complex mental health conditions that involve the child or teenager developing disruptive eating behaviours, thoughts, and feelings which can take over their life and cause them to feel quite unwell. The two most common eating disorders in children and adolescents are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

Children with Anorexia have a distorted body image where they believe they weigh too much, causing them to severely restrict their food intake and self-starve. On the other hand, children with Bulimia follow a ‘binge and purge’ routine, where they regularly eat excessive amounts of food (binging) and then attempt to eliminate the consequences of overeating (purging) by inducing vomiting, starving, or exercising excessively.

If you have observed your child exhibiting disruptive and abnormal eating behaviours, clinical psychology therapy could help. Effective therapies such as family therapy and CBT, used by highly experienced clinicians, are available within our clinic in the North West London area.

Eating disorders

How do I know if my child or teenager has an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are complex and there are many possible causes. Some common presenting features in both Anorexia and Bulimia include over-valuation of body shape and weight, constant thinking or worrying about food and calorie intake, and deriving self-worth from body shape.

Specifically for Anorexia, you might notice that your son or daughter is exhibiting the following:

  • Significantly low body weight in context of age and developmental trajectory.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
  • Being compulsively in control, or out of control, of food.
  • Unreasonably changing the quantity or type of food they will eat.
  • Engaging in a lot of physical activity to aid weight loss.
  • Socially withdrawn, moody.

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness.
  • Very dry skin.
  • Dehydration.
  • Constipation.

Specifically for Bulimia, you might notice that your son or daughter is exhibiting the following:

  • Repeated episodes of binge eating that feel out of control.
  • Food hoarding.
  • Excessive fasting or starving.
  • Going to the toilet immediately after eating.
  • Engaging in intense exercise.
  • Disengaged and socially withdrawn.

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Cut or scarred knuckles and fingers from self-induced vomit.
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux, stomach cramps.
  • Swollen salivary glands.
  • It is important to note that Bulimia can be harder to spot as the person’s weight may not drastically change, however it is equally as dangerous to the young person’s health.

How can I help my child or teenager with an eating disorder?

Eating Disorders left untreated can pose a significant risk to your child’s health and can negatively affect their psychological wellbeing and social relations. Seeking help early is the best way to combat an eating disorder, so please get in touch if you believe your child struggles with any of the above symptoms. If you are unsure whether your child’s behaviour is a sign of an eating disorder, Harwood Child Psychology can offer a full specialist assessment following the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines.

As a parent, it can be distressing to watch your child or teenager struggle with an eating disorder. The good news is there are evidence-based, modern, and effective counselling and therapy methods for Eating Disorders available in North West London with Harwood Child Psychology. Our approach of using only rigorously tested and NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) approved treatments dramatically increases the chance of seeing real improvements in your child.

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At Harwood Child Psychology we offer cost-effective, evidence-based treatment with a highly-qualified clinical psychologist. You can be sure that your child or teenager is in safe hands. We pride ourselves on a high quality, warm and compassionate service that can help your son or daughter overcome their Eating Disorder.

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We conduct gold-standard treatments recommended for Eating Disorders, which include family therapy for children and young adolescents and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for older adolescents. Alongside full therapy, we provide parenting support and behavioural management for the child to help them understand their worries and learn the necessary techniques to help them gain control of their eating habits.

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Harwood Child Psychology provides engaging and effective therapy for Eating Disorders in Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Highgate, Hampstead, Finchley and the wider North West London area.

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