Treatment of Men with Eating Disorders

This Table Talk happened on Monday, June 24, 2019

To learn about men in treatment (i.e., those identifying as male in society)- VFED got a great man, Stephen Reeder, MA, NCC, LPCC, CEDS to come talk to us this month. Turns out the societal forces at play here did need to be better understood by- well the rest of us in the room. Men are expected to have fewer feelings than women- more of a black/grey/white range (involving stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression) vs. a full color spectrum. So although guys actually DO have a variety of feelings they may not develop the necessary language to express certain ones, nor the permission to even feel them. Something as inevitable as a sense of sadness can then lead to shame or anger as “the game is rigged” for them.

Unlike their female counterparts, these ED patients may focus more on body shape than weight, feeling a fear of what could be perceived as “softness”- and understandably drawn to body building and Crossfit-type routines. Start out with a bit more authority and coaching; don’t expect feelings very soon in the treatment. And DO take the time to address gender dynamics in the room.

But keep in mind that men with stronger beliefs in “masculinity” are less likely to seek treatment. Even though, as we know, true strength comes from vulnerability.

Thank you so much, Stephen, and to all who attended.

Here is a link to APA Guidelines for practice with men and boys.