USING TEXT MESSAGING FOR SUPPORT
Texting can be a great tool for reaching out. In the 8 Keys secrets, we report research showing that texting actually assists people in changing behavior. You can text someone to help prevent yourself from engaging in an eating disorder behavior, get reinforcement for taking a risk, or get acknowledgment for doing something difficult. Texting is a way of reaching out that is immediate and simple. It might be hard at first to get yourself to text when you need help, but our experience shows you are more likely to do this than to call.
Texting provides connection, helps with accountability, can serve as a distraction, and may elicit a helpful idea or response from the other person. The person receiving your text doesn’t even have to respond for it to work. Sometimes just sending the text is enough to get you through a hard time. If the person you text is busy, even a quick response can be the very thing that helps you over a hurdle. Chances are you already use texting to communicate, so you just need to work out how to use it as a method of support. Texting is a recovery tool you can use with peers, loved ones, and professionals.
HOW WE USE TEXTING WITH CLIENTS
Eating disorder clients need a significant amount of help to interrupt or stop their behaviors. As therapists, we are often the first people whom clients will feel comfortable reaching out to. We use texting with clients as a way of providing ongoing support between sessions. By letting clients start by texting us, we can get them familiar and comfortable with it and then have them transfer their texting to others.
We do not spend endless hours texting our clients, and we don’t text with all our clients all the time. Usually we make specific texting goals with specific clients. Although there might be issues with texting (cell service, misinterpretation of the text, timing such that it’s difficult to respond, boundary issues, and so on) the ability to engage with clients in the moment when they are actually struggling has helped facilitate progress to such an extent we can’t imagine not doing it. Of course we aren’t available to respond at all times, but sometimes just the act of sending the text is enough to help the client. Think about it, if you send a text for support, it means your Healthy Self has come forward and reached out. Once your Healthy Self is present it’s easier to make healthier decisions. So even if you don’t get a response, texting can help anyway.
Quote from a client
One time early in treatment I had eaten lunch, but needed to have an afternoon snack. I sat in front of my trail mix and started questioning whether I needed it. I thought about throwing it away, but remembered how much I’d been urged to ask for help if I didn’t want to do something, wasn’t certain, or needed feedback. I knew if I reached out, I would feel more compelled to do what I didn’t want to do. Eat the snack. I realized that was the perfect indicator I needed to reach out. I had to do the harder thing. I picked up my phone with shaking hands and texted my therapist, describing the situation. Most of the time she would get right back to me, but not this time. I was holding my phone waiting for a response. However, just the act of texting her made me feel my Healthy Self more present, and my Eating Disorder Self take a backseat. The thought crossed my mind that I didn’t want to live a life where the decision to eat trail mix gave me anxiety and kept me from a life worth living. I put down my phone and picked up my food. ‚
Although we use texting and email communication regularly with our clients, we respect that not all therapists or other health care providers are comfortable texting clients or with other outside communication between sessions. If you are seeking a therapist, dietitian, or other professional, you might want to consider asking about his or her policy regarding texting and other contact between sessions. Some professionals charge a fee for communication outside of sessions, or may incorporate this into their session fee. If you already have a therapist (or other professional) whom you like and want to continue seeing, but who does not have a between session contact policy‚ or is not comfortable with texting, you will need to find other people to reach out to.
APPS FOR CONNECTION AND RECOVERY
There are eating disorder recovery apps that are similar to how we use texting but go beyond that, offering several features. Some apps include communications to your therapists creating a certain kind of interaction‚ between sessions. If using an app seems interesting to you, we suggest you search the app store for your particular phone, and read recommendations and ratings online in order to find out the most recent information to help you decide which one works best for you. Below is a brief summary of popular eating disorder apps.
This app allows the user to log meals and snacks, as well as thoughts and feelings. The information is compiled into feedback charts that can point out patterns and be shared with a therapist, support person, or other app users. This app offers numerous features and is HIPAA-compliant, meaning that your personal health information is protected according to law. Your clinician would pay a small monthly fee depending on the number of clients or patients linked to the app, and then would be able to monitor your progress, make customized forms, print reports, chart your weight, and see results of certain assessments.
Rise Up and Recover
Designed by someone who recovered from an eating disorder, this app is a much simpler version of Recovery Record. It allows users to log behaviors and set reminders, and provides a menu of coping skills to turn to rather than eating disorder behaviors. You can use this app to help with with accountability, including your treatment team, who can access it for free.
Rooted Recovery’s mission is to reduce the barriers to eating disorder recovery by providing greater access to specialized community-based care. Rooted Recovery provides a range of therapy and support services, one of which is the free mobile app (relaunching in 2016) that coaches individuals through their triggers while reinforcing healthy coping skills. The app includes trend reports for individuals and clinicians so that they can glean greater insight into the recovery and treatment process. The app also provides individuals with access to higher levels of support services and means to build connections within their home communities. Rooted Recovery’s app and services