9 05, 2017

Would You Know When You’ve Gone Too Far?

2017-05-09T20:39:01+00:00 May 9th, 2017|0 Comments

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. But people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently—and some engage in potentially dangerous or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem.

Sometimes people—especially young people—struggling with mental health concerns develop habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.

Activities like compulsive sex, recreational drug use, obsessive internet use, excessive spending, or disordered exercise patterns can all be behaviors that can disrupt someone’s mental health and potentially lead them down a path towards crisis.

This May is Mental Health Month; Empowerment Treatment & Counseling is raising awareness of Risky Business (#riskybusiness). The campaign is meant to educate and inform individuals dealing with a mental health concern understand that some behaviors and habits can be detrimental to recovery—or even mask a deeper issue—but that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Take the interactive quiz here and tell us when you think behaviors or habits go from being acceptable to unhealthy.

Empowerment Treatment & Counseling wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and that even if you or someone you love are engaging in risky behavior, there is help. It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more.

We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness—and do so in a compassionate, judgement-free way.

When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early—and provide effective treatment Before Stage 4.

So, let’s talk about what is and is not risky business. Let’s understand where it’s important to draw the line, so that we can address mental illness B4Stage4, and help others on the road to recovery. For more information, visit

7 04, 2017

Bulimia Nervosa: Breaking the Binge-Purge Eating Disorder Cycle

2017-03-29T20:48:38+00:00 April 7th, 2017|0 Comments

Bulimia is an eating disorder that consists of periods of excessive overeating (binge) followed by purging. Binge eating occurs in several different eating disorders, for instance Binge Eating Disorder, however Bulimia Nervosa differs from binge eating disorder in that bulimia is followed by a method of purging.

Most are familiar with Bulimia as a binge-purge cycle, however vomiting is not the only method of “purging.” It is not uncommon for people with bulimia to attempt to manage or offset their food consumption with excessive exercise, laxatives, restricting or a combination of these methods as an alternative to purging.  Another scary form of purging for those who also suffer from Type 1 Diabetes is to manipulate insulin levels in order to manage weight, a terrifying and life-threatening tactic!

Bulimia nervosa typically follows a cycle of food restriction, binge and purge.  Here’s a little more about these two cycles:

Restriction:   Restriction or deprivation is an important element of the dangerous binge-purge cycle. This is because dieting, food restriction or the threat of starvation triggers us to binge eat. It is the result of starvation dating back to our ancestors. it was our body’s normal response to starvation.

Binge:  Individuals with binge eating disorder and bulimia tend to hide their excessive food intake. As we discussed on a previous blog article, it is important to note that a “binge” episode is not clearly defined by caloric intake;  some professionals may describe it as the consumption of an unusual amount of food intake in one sitting or within a 2 hour time period.  However in order to meet the diagnostic criteria for a true eating disorder, the binge episodes go beyond the amount of calories or food items consumed; the binge episodes are distressing and those suffering from this disorder often say they feel a lack of control. In an article on PsychCentral, Dr. Toby Goldsmith explains, “once a binge begins, it is very difficult to interrupt.” It is not uncommon for people to describe being lost in a “trance” during their binge episodes. Binge episodes can be planned or unplanned and these episodes are typically accompanied by mood changes before, during and after.

While there are a variety of individual triggers that may lead to a binge episode, some of the more common triggers are:

  • uncomfortable mood states
  • interpersonal stress
  • disrupted hunger/fullness cues (often stemming from dietary restriction)
  • negative feelings related to body image

Purge:  Following a binge, it isn’t uncommon for people suffering from bulimia nervosa to feel immense guilt or shame. In some cases, even if the type or quantity of food is what most would consider normal, a person with and eating disorder may attach guilt or shame to certain food choices.  This often leads to purging, which can be done by using laxatives, exercise, vomiting or diuretics, each of which carry significant dangers when misused.

After a binge, many report that purging brings back a momentary feeling of control to their lives. Some individuals have described the act of purging as momentarily euphoric, distracting them from the real issues at hand. Bulimia has also been compared to drug addiction because of the the temporary release of endorphins, or feel-good hormones.


Managing weight through these methods has incredibly detrimental effects on the body. Frequent binge/purge cycles can place incredible stress on the body. The stress of this cycle can lead to

  • arrhythmia
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • heart attack
  • inflammation, tears or rupture of the esophagus
  • gastroparesis or chronic gastric reflux.
  • mouth sores
  • degradation of the gums and teeth
  • puffy cheeks or jaws come from swollen salivary glands
  • damage to the kidneys
  • damage to the intestines can cause bloating, diarrhea, or constipation
  • anemia
  • ruptured vessels in the eyes due to the force of vomiting

It is very important to know that these health issues do not always disappear once you have overcome the illness; conditions such as gastroparesis can last for years after the cessation of binge-purge behaviors and the damage to the gastrointestinal system can last for a lifetime.

It is important to understand bulimia nervosa is more than just about food; it is about overwhelming emotions, and feelings of lack of control over the sufferer’s life. This sense of lack of control triggers the binge-purge cycle which is difficult to stop without professional help.  The good news?  There is help available!

Sabrina Landa is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663


5 04, 2017

Eating Disorder Recovery & Families

2017-03-31T18:26:52+00:00 April 5th, 2017|0 Comments

Individuals living with an eating disorder (ED) are not the only ones affected by their ED. The family of the affected individual can also suffer greatly while navigating their loved one’s illness. The often devastating effects of the illness can reverberate throughout a family and have a tremendous impact on the people who love the individual.

What can family members do to move through this time in healthy ways?

  • Get support for yourself – Find a therapist, practice self-care regularly, and do not blame yourself for your loved one’s eating disorder. Mindfulness and meditation may help you find calm moments each day, create space in your thoughts, and also keep you present in each moment.
  • In your mind, separate your loved one from his or her ED. Your loved one is not their eating disorder. They each have unique personalities and behaviors, and can be easily identified. This disconnection of the two allows space for love, compassion, hope and patience for your loved one and his/her recovery to be felt and shared, while also granting freedom for the intense, negative emotions that you feel toward the eating disorder.

Family members have an opportunity to play a unique and significant role in their loved one’s recovery. However, this can be daunting task, especially at the beginning.

What can family members do to best support their loved one in recovery?

  • Help your loved one find a treatment team that is experienced in eating disorders. This team should include, at minimum, a licensed counselor with eating disorder experience and registered dietitian. A medical doctor and possibly a psychiatrist may be helpful and/or necessary as well. Health professionals that are not properly trained in eating disorders can do more harm than good, even though they may have the best intentions. Interviewing the professional in advance can be a beneficial first step.
  • Educate yourself – There are many resources available to you such as the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), and quite a few good books you can use as resources (“Life Without Ed” by Jenni Schaefer is a great place to start). These can help you begin to understand what your loved one is going through with his or her eating disorder and how you can best support them. Attend any family support groups that your loved one’s treatment facility offers – these can be a huge asset, both as support for yourself and as education.

Above all else, hold tight onto HOPE. Don’t give up. There may be bad days. There may be horrific days. There will also be days full of life, light and goodness. Watch for them; be on the lookout. Note them in your gratitude journal.

Amanda Going has personally supported a loved one with an eating disorder and is the amazing Office Manager at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

1 04, 2017

Binge Eating Disorder: More Than Emotional Eating

2017-03-29T16:45:15+00:00 April 1st, 2017|0 Comments

From time to time we all overeat, and many of us will occasionally engage in “emotional eating.”  But what’s the difference between occasionally adding that extra serving of yummy potatoes to our plate after we’re full or eating that handful of M&Ms when we’re stressed and a legit eating disorder?

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) describes Binge Eating Disorder (BED) as recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food within a short period of time. It is important to understand that a binge is not characterized by caloric amount but rather,  by the consumption of food significantly larger then what most people would eat under similar circumstances and period. There is also the emotional component with a binge, like most eating disorders, there is a sense of lack of control during the episode, often followed by shame, distress or guilt.

In order to diagnose BED and to distinguish it from other forms of eating disorders, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) adds a few more qualifiers to help determine the correct diagnosis such as  level of distress over bingeing episodes, loss of control over amount of eatin, frequency of the bingeing episodes of at least once weekly for at least three months,  as well as things like eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating more rapidly than normal (i.e. two hour period), feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted with oneself after overeating, eating alone because of embarrassment associated with how much one is eating, and eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry

A few interesting statistics about binge eating disorder:

  • 40% of those with BED are male
  • 3 out of 10 individuals looking for weight loss treatment show signs of BED
  • Research estimates that only 28.4% of people with BED are receiving treatment for the disorder
  • eating disorder can affect individuals at any age, for BED it often begins in the late teens or early 20’s.
  • BED is actually more common than Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa, with data revealing that about 5 million women and 3 million men in the United States struggle with this disorder

What tips the scales from the occasional overeating episode into truly disordered eating?  Studies have shown that many factors can play a role in the development of BED. Among those factors may be a family history of eating disorders, psychological issues such as feeling negative about yourself, your skills and accomplishments (triggers for a binge episode can include but are not limited to poor body image, stress, boredom and food), or a a history of dieting sometimes dating back into childhood.


Binge Eating disorder can lead to obesity which could create a host of health issues and medical conditions related to obesity (joint problems, heart disease, sleep-related breathing disorders etc).  It can also influence quality life by leading to social isolation, problems at work, depression, anxiety, substance use, feeling bad about yourself, and a poor quality of life.

The good news?

Binge eating disorder is treatable. Here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center in Phoenix/Glendale Arizona, clients work with experienced, compassionate therapists and registered dietitians to reduce binges and address the underlying emotional and psychological components that lead to the binging.  We offer a wholistic approach to eating disorder recovery which includes the dietetic management and education component, individual counseling and therapy, as well as Intensive Outpatient (IOP) group therapy for both adults and adolescents.

Sabrina Landa is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663


  • Mayo Clinic Staff Print. (2016, February 09). Treatment.
  • National Eating Disorder Association. (n.d.). Overview and Statistics.
  • National Institute of Mental Health.  “Eating Disorders Among Adults – Binge Eating Disorders”.
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5)
30 03, 2017

No More Suffering In Silence: Eating Disorder Treatment in Phoenix Arizona

2019-09-06T16:30:37+00:00 March 30th, 2017|0 Comments

It’s one thing to suffer from an eating disorder but it’s a whole other thing to admit you are living with an eating disorder. Many men and women go throughout their lives battling an eating disorder on their own. Eating disorders effect people of all ethnicities, races, social and cultural backgrounds and genders but it’s not uncommon if someone doesn’t fit the social stereotype often associated with eating disorders, they’ll keep their struggles to themselves. And this is one of the most dangerous and sad aspects of eating disorders:  many who have eating disorders suffer quietly on their own.  Silence is the number one reason people don’t receive treatment for their eating disorders.

If you or a loved one is suffering in silence with your eating disorder you are not alone.  Many people suffer for extended periods of time because they do not know what to say, where to go to, who to trust and having extreme feelings of shame and fear. One of the hardest and most rewarding things that can be done is to open up and talk to someone about the problem.  In doing so, you’re taking a step in the right direction admitting that the eating disorder is damaging your life and that you need help.  The earlier someone receives treatment the better, but any time is the right time to reach out, receive treatment and find hope and healing.

“Who can I talk to or where do I begin?”

Here are some ideas who you can open up to or places you can start:

  • Parent or Guardian
  • Spouse
  • Close Friend or Family Member
  • Doctor or Healthcare Provider
  • Therapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Teacher or Professor
  • Empowerment Treatment and Counseling
  • NEDA Hotline

It is important to understand that while it’s a great first step, family members, coworkers and friends are probably not equipped to help you heal completely.  They may be an integral part of your healing process and a huge support system, but it is essential to receive treatment from an experienced therapist who specializes in eating disorders or a facility specializing in eating disorders treatment.

Taking these first steps can be very difficult and painful so it is important to practice kindness towards yourself during this process.  You are taking a step in the right direction for a life long recovery from your eating disorder.  Hope and healing is possible for all!

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  


  • The Silent Suffering of Eating Disorders. (n.d.).