The Role Of The Ecducator:
Some "Don'ts" For Educators And Other People
Concerned About A Person With An Eating Disorder
Michael Levine, Ph.D. Presented at the 13th National NEDO Conference, Columbus, Ohio, October 3, 1994
2. Don't oversimplify. Avoid thinking or saying things such as "Well, eating disorders are just an 'addiction' like alcoholism" or "All you have to do is start accepting yourself as you are."
3. Don't imply that bulimia nervosa, because it is often associated with " normal weight," is somehow less serious than anorexia nervosa.
4. Don't be judgmental, e.g., don't tell the person that what they are doing is "sick" or "stupid" or "self-destructive. "
5. Don't give advice about weight loss or exercise or appearance.
6. Don't confront the person with a group of people, all of whom are firing accusations at the person. ,
7. Don't diagnose: keep the focus on inefficiency, misery, alienation, and disturbance.
8. Don't become the person's therapist, savior, or victim. In this regard, do not "promise to keep this a secret no matter what."
9. Don't get into an argument or a battle of wills. If the person denies having a problem, simply and calmly:
(a) Repeat what you have observed, i.e., your evidence for a problem;
(b) Repeat your concern about the person's health and well-being;
(c) Repeat your conviction that the circumstance should at least be evaluated by a counselor or therapist;
(d) End the conversation if it is going nowhere or if either party becomes too upset. This stalemate suggests that the person seeking to help needs to consult a professional;
(e) Take any actions necessary for you to carry out your responsibilities or to protect yourself;
(f) If possible, leave the door open for further conversations.
10. Don't be inactive during an emergency: If the person is throwing up several times per day, or passing out, or complaining of chest pain, or is suicidal, get help immediately.