[author title=”Lucy Bonner” author_id=”Lucy Bonner”]
As the clinic assistant at The Recover Clinic, I’m frequently asked by friends and family not only what I actually do, but what The Recover Clinic is all about. I decided to ask Emmy Gilmour, our founder and Clinical Director what had motivated her to establish such a fantastic community of healing.
“During the early years of my career I’d worked with sufferers of eating disorders and often felt disappointed about the lack of appropriate treatment options that were available to them. I felt that so many of the sufferers that I came into contact with were capable of healing ‘if’ they could have been given the right help but, sadly, so many of them weren’t. Much eating disorder treatment did (and still does) revolve around stabilizing food behaviours but I always felt that the best way to ‘cure’ someone from this affliction was to take away the emotional need for the eating disorder altogether.
Eating disorders are destructive coping strategies that have developed over time by someone who has been unable to deal with the challenges in their life in any other way. Eating disorders are not about food or vanity or even weight, although sufferers can frequently feel as though that’s the case. The focus on thoughts and feelings relating to food and weight are simply symptoms of the illness…in order to treat the illness I recognized that we needed to treat the root cause of the illness, not just the symptoms.”
So what was the root cause?
“I felt that in all of the cases that I’d seen, the root cause of all eating disorders was unresolved trauma. Sufferers had experienced trauma at different points that they had then been unable to process and or cope with. They then developed eating disordered behaviours as a way of avoiding and managing the trauma. For many sufferers the traumas had meant that they had absorbed certain perceived damaging ‘truths’ about themselves and they were all consumed with a strong sense of self-loathing.
I realised that for treatment to be really successful, we would have to teach these people how to heal those early wounds and how to love themselves. In my work I’ve often referenced the work of a clinician called Carl Rogers who, in his early work, did some experiments with little potato plants which he kept in a darkened room with only a small ray of light. It did not matter where Rogers moved the plants, they would continue to lean and bend toward the light. As human beings, no matter how scared or damaged we are, we are conditioned to lean toward light because it’s how we’re wired…we want love.
I believed that a holistic program that was grounded in empowering sufferers and educating them about how to manage their symptoms whilst building positive tools for coping was absolutely the solution and 11 years on…I’ve seen that dream realised.
My care and devotion to each of our clients is ongoing and my desire to help any sufferers of this devastating illness is boundless. I’m just so grateful that we have created somewhere for people to come and to heal.”
When I took on this role I really wasn’t prepared for what it would involve. I naively thought that I was going to work for a ‘nice’ organization where I would get on with my day to day tasks and then go home, I wasn’t prepared for how much the warmth and love of such a place would impact me. Emmy always describes the clinic as a family and it really is. Many of our clients, have never known a consistently safe and nurturing home, The Recover Clinic provides that for them and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.