In this blog post, we shall answer the question “are there eating disorder support groups in Chicago?” and look at the importance of support groups. We shall define support groups and eating disorders and look at the most common eating disorders. Finally, we shall look at eating disorder support groups available in Chicago.
Are there eating disorder support groups in Chicago?
Yes, there are eating disorder support groups in Chicago. A support group is a gathering of people going through common problems. A support group can have a professional leading it or a member who has been through the problem and has been in recovery for a long time (preferably over 5 years).
When going through a problem/addiction, family members and close family can sympathize, but may not know what to tell you to get out of that situation as they don’t understand what you are going through. Doctors and health professionals also offer minimal emotional support and their primary focus is medical.
Support groups, on the other hand, are comprised of people who know exactly how it feels to be in the situation that you are in and can offer valid help depending on how they handled the situation. The best medicine can be the voice of a person who has been in your shoes.
Support groups can be used to support those going through:
- Terminal illnesses like cancer
- Domestic abuse
- Caregivers of people with mental or terminal illnesses
Types of support groups
Support groups have been created especially for people going through addictions of many kinds. Remember that a support group is not a substitute for seeking medical help. They include:
- Mutual support groups
These are peer-led groups. They are trained but do not assume the role of medical professionals. Participants can be people going through various challenges like domestic violence, grief, medical issues, and mood disorders among others. The members give each other advice depending on what is working for them and encourage others to do so.
- 12-step self-help groups
These focus on people with addictions i.e. alcohol, narcotics, sex, gambling and even eating addictions. The members follow the 12 steps of recovery created by alcohol anonymous and can be adapted to fit all those addictions. They are peer-led.
- Therapy groups
These are led by mental health professionals. Treatment is provided to people going through similar challenges as a group. Therapy groups are used to treat many mental disorders and unlike other groups, they might be charged.
- Online groups
These are a great alternative when people cannot meet physically or for people with very busy schedules. The downside of online groups is that they do not capture raw facial expressions and body language of members and communication breakdowns are very common. The groups can also limit the number of members willing to share and participate.
Difference between group therapy and a support group
Seattle group therapy and support groups both offer great and safe spaces for discussing issues concerning eating disorders. It is, however, important to note the difference between the two.
- Group therapy is led by a mental health professional while a support group can be led by a health professional or members with lived experiences
- Group therapy is structured around issues while a support group is less structured
- Ex[erienced health professionals guide the group towards understanding thoughts and feelings while support groups are made for members to offer support and strengthen each other as they recover
- Most therapy groups are scheduled for a fixed length of time with consistent members while support groups meet for an indefinite period with members coming and going
- Group therapy can be charged while support groups are free
Importance of eating disorder support groups
Focus on self-care
Members of support groups may offer useful tips on how to take care of themselves, combat fatigue, avoid stress and anxiety, and feel mentally and physically healthier. They give workable solutions as these are methods that they have tested and have worked for them.
Learn positive coping strategies
These also include first-hand methods that other members have tried and have worked for them. As you are recovering from eating disorders, it is important to come up with positive coping mechanisms for stressors or else they would trigger a relapse.
You might learn new tips like meditating, journaling, and finding new hobbies and other things that you might have not considered while alone.
Grow through shared experiences
Sharing troubling thoughts can help relieve and ease off heavy burdens. As others share their experiences, you can get insight into how others have been able to handle similar situations you are going through.
Being around other people going through similar challenges can give you renewed hope that you are not alone in your struggles. It also increases mood and optimism, especially hearing stories of people whose journeys of recovery are going on well.
Help in building interpersonal relationships
Many people with eating disorders isolate themselves from any social interactions due to guilt or shame from their disorder or feeling judged and misunderstood. Support groups give you an opportunity to connect and build relationships with people you can trust and who you are sure will not judge you, even if you go through episodes of relapses.
7 eating disorder support groups in Chicago
ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), is a non-profit organization that provides free support for those suffering from eating disorders. The organization has been in existence since 1976 and has since become the leading organization helping those suffering from eating disorders in the United States.
The support groups are offered virtually and offer access to space for those suffering. It is absolutely free and all you have to do is choose a group, register, receive confirmation and attend. The groups have a maximum of 20 participants (on a first-come-first-serve basis), meet weekly for 75 minutes on zoom, and are led by trained persons who have had eating disorders.
You can also find eating disorder helplines, request a recovery mentor, get a treatment directory and referral services, get support at every stage, and of course, you have the option of joining a support group.
Eating disorder support group by Dawn Kenner
This group is designed for adults struggling with eating disorders and who are willing to recover. It also helps people with negative body images and finds a place to connect with others sharing the same struggles.
Accept yourself! By Catharine M. Delvin
This group supports adults struggling with eating disorders, anxiety and depression. The group accommodates those with weight concerns to get comfortable and make peace with their bodies. It also helps members cultivate self-care.
Mind-body Co-op group schedule by Kellie Rice
This is a trauma-focused group for people struggling with addictions, eating disorders, trauma and PTSD. The group offers a free space for interaction, identifies negative patterns and finds positive coping mechanisms. It will also help you to navigate through the demands of the environment and connect with people going through similar challenges.
Addiction recovery group by Tamara Roth
This is an adult group for those with eating disorders, addiction and alcohol use. It supports people of all genders who are going through various addictions and compulsive behaviours.
Eating disorder process group by move therapy and wellness
This group is for adults struggling with eating disorders and are in the process of recovery. The members are able to share their experiences, explore thoughts and feelings related to eating disorders and receive constructive feedback. It helps in learning tangible and useful tips for handling stressors.
Women’s group by Jeffrey David Roth
There are four weekly women groups that consist of nine members each. The issues discussed are codependency, addiction and eating disorders. The groups are open-ended and allow the members time to reflect and work on issues that brought them to treatment and find benefits of long-term treatment.
Mixed-gender groups by Jeffrey David Roth
There are two weekly mixed-gender groups for discussing codependency, addiction and eating disorders. The groups have nine members each and are open-ended. This allows the members time to reflect and work on issues that brought them to treatment and find the benefits of long-term treatment.
What are the pros and cons of eating disorder support groups?
Just like any other treatment option available for eating disorders, support groups have their fair share of pros and cons. The beauty about support groups is that all the members can relate to the issues each one is facing and the downside of this is that many can offer unsolicited advice. Let us now look at the pros and cons of joining eating disorder support groups.
- Most are free and the ones that charge are affordable
- Offer different perspectives and opinions
- Provide a sense of belonging
- Offer a non-judgemental place
- Offer a space for interaction and building social skills
- Gives one a sense of accountability
- Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed
- It can be difficult to share personal struggles to a group of people
- Some can be uncomfortable with the stories shared
- Support groups might not be appropriate for those in a crisis
These pros and cons will help you decide whether a support group is a viable treatment option for you or your loved one.
In this article, we discussed eating disorder support groups in Chicago. We also listed some of the best support groups in Chicago. In addition, we talked about eating disorders, their symptoms, causes, and risk factors. We hope this information was insightful.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.
Frequently asked questions: Are there eating disorder support groups in Chicago?
What are some examples of coping strategies for those with eating disorders?
● Coping strategies for eating disorders include taking deep breaths when
overwhelmed with thoughts of eating disorders.
● Journaling your feelings and emotions concerning eating disorders, talking
to a therapist about the difficulties related to managing eating disorders,
and talking to a friend about your issue.
● Distracting yourself by engaging in activities such as running, walking,
painting, colouring, playing an instrument or listening to soothing music.
What are the three forms of treatment for anorexia?
Treatment for anorexia nervosa includes;
● Cognitive behavioural therapy
● Dialectical behavioural therapy
● Acceptance and commitment to therapy
Which eating disorder is most prevalent?
Binge eating is the most prevalent eating disorder with a global rating of 5.5%
followed by bulimia at 2%
American Psychiatric Association, (2013). Eating disorders in Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (5th edition). American Psychiatric Association.
Psychologytoday. Eating Disorders Support Groups in Chicago, IL. Psychologytoday. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/il/chicago?category=eating-disorders
Single care team. (February, 15, 2022). Eating disorder statistics 2022. The check up by single care. Retrieved from https://www.singlecare.com/blog/news/eating-disorder-statistics/