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  • Writer's picturecarlaanderson7

Anthea Maher: Early maladaptive schemas in eating disorders.

Anthea Maher, one of our Clinical Psychologists, was excited to see that one of her publications was recently acknowledged as a top-cited article in a leading eating disorder journal. It is one of three articles she has published relating to eating disorder/body image and contributing factors, such as patterns of core beliefs and early childhood experiences.

Anthea wrote the following to further explain her framework for therapy:

An area of passion for me relates to long term patterns of thinking and behaviour. Often, when I first meet an adult or adolescent client, I am making decisions about the best modality of treatment for their concern. I often find that my clients’ psychological difficulties have been popping up in multiple areas of their life. For example they might:

·         Feel like they are never good enough,

·         Feel shame about their body,

·         Find themselves constantly people pleasing or trying to keep other people happy,

·         Be hard on themselves,

·         Be impulsive and find it hard to stick to their long term goals,

·         Feel like a failure and give up on their goals due to fear of embarrassment or failure,

·         Not trust others,

·         Feel like they sabotage relationships and are destined to be alone,

·         Worry that their own negative childhood experiences will affect the way they parent

Whilst all of these thoughts and patterns can be part of the human experience, they become a concern when they repeatedly affect us and prevent us from having a happy, authentic or fulfilled life. I also find that these life patterns become more emphasised in periods of change such as entering adulthood, entering parenthood or ending/starting relationships.

Schema Therapy is an evidence based psychological intervention that explores these patterns in detail and identifies why they keep repeating themselves, despite us trying our best and wanting the best for ourselves. Young (2000) outlines how unmet needs in early childhood can result in patterns of thinking that lead to unhelpful behaviours in adulthood. Such needs relate to physical safety, emotional safety, reliable guidance, boundaries and limits, and play and spontaneity. I provide an authentic and safe space to discuss these needs and build new strategies to work towards our therapy goals.

As an emerging framework in the eating disorder field, I also provide a non-judgmental space to explore how early childhood experiences may be affecting your body image and eating disorder thinking.

Call 0449 113 511 to book an appointment with Anthea.

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