Eating Disorder Recovery and Mountain Climbing

Eating Disorder Recovery and Mountain Climbing:

5 Steps to Help Your Clients Reach their Eating Disorder Recovery Summit!

Eating disorder recovery is like climbing a mountain – I was reflecting about this as I reached the summit of Bergen Peak in Evergreen, Colorado (see video below)! It was a long and sometimes difficult journey, but my traverse was eased by those who had created a trail to reach the summit. In addition, I was prepared, carrying the essentials that I needed with me in my backpack, and wearing the right gear. But it all began with my commitment to embark on this journey, and trusting my Inner Guide for Inspiration to complete this climb.

During my own eating disorder recovery, I learned five essential principles, and practicing these principles on a daily basis gradually allowed me to let go of eating disorder behaviors and embrace a new life of freedom! Now, as a Licensed Addiction Counselor and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist, I share these five principles with my clients. These principles comprise the method I created, Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ – and I provide training and certification for Eating Disorder Recovery Coaches and Treatment Clinicians  to be able to help their clients. EDIT™ Certified professionals are like mountaineering guides, using these five EDIT™ Principles as steps to the summit of eating disorder recovery success.

1. Love Your Self Commit to the Recovery Journey!
Even if clients have some ambivalence, emphasize their worthiness to recover and live the life they truly want to live! Give your clients essential tools to begin their recovery journey – these are specific EDIT™ Worksheets you’ll provide in an initial session. Using the hiking analogy, you’ll give your clients a backpack (which will be filled in the next steps), and a map (so they don’t feel likely they’re blindly wandering into the unknown). Some clients might wonder, “What about my bathroom scale? And a mirror?” You might explain that a bathroom scale would be a heavy item to carry, and use EDIT™ Worksheets to help them find freedom from weighing (or measuring their bodies in any way). As for the mirror, you can suggest that this journey of recovery will involve discovery of their True Self, which can’t be seen as an image of the body reflected in a mirror. Hold the vision of your clients as their True Self until they can envision this themselves.

2. Be True To Your SelfEnjoy Nourishment for the Whole Self!
This includes the body, mind, heart and soul – or, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery. Introduce the concept of listening to one’s Inner Wisdom, or Intuitive Therapist (IT) within themselves. Start with the EDIT™ Worksheets which help clients access their Intuition, and then guide them with the EDIT™ Worksheets for Intuitive Eating and Intuitive Exercise (or Mindful Movement).  Using eating disorder recovery as a mountain climbing metaphor, emphasize the importance of water, meals and snacks, and assist your clients to add these to their backpack for their recovery journey. To further support the body, your clients need adequate hiking shoes or boots, and trekking poles can make it easier on the knee and hip joints. Remind your clients that this recovery journey is not a sprint, and encourage them to take lots of breaks along the way.

3. Express Your SelfAttend to Thoughts, Feelings, and Authentic Needs!
This is a critical step on the eating disorder mountain climbing journey. Guide your clients to gently notice their thoughts and feelings, and assist them to be curious about their authentic needs (shifting from ED to IT). There are essential EDIT™ Worksheets which facilitate this process. Sometimes the path may be very clear and clients can proceed with ease… celebrate your clients’ successes! And then the path might disappear. have your clients wandered into the weeds (filled with thoughts from the ED mind) instead of the Way of Recovery (filled with hope and encouragement from the mind of IT)? Prepare your clients when the Way gets challenging, such as climbing through scree (broken rock fragments and loose stones that are often at higher elevations, especially nearing a mountain summit). This is when clients are concurrently climbing high and yet “slipping back” to address core issues. Affirm that the Way has challenges, and moving through these leads to workable solutions and more freedom from ED! Offer EDIT™ Worksheets to guide clients to develop healthy coping skills and explore those deeper issues. Clients may appreciate having a journal in their backpack, so they can take note of their challenges and successes on their recovery journey. Sometimes, life can get messy, so be sure that your clients have toilet paper and a trowel (to dig a hole and bury the s*** left behind)!

4. Give To Your SelfBecome Full-filled from Within!
Many clients struggle with the concept of “enough.” They might strive to be “good enough,” always striving yet never arriving, it’s “never good enough.” This can be mimicked through ED behaviors, such as restrictive eating to reflect an inner emptiness, or binge eating in an attempt to fill a hole inside. Meanwhile, basic needs are barely being met. It’s like your clients are going in circles near the mountain top, unaware of who and where they really are, looking outside themselves for approval instead of pausing to realize their own Self-validation. Clients will never feel “good enough” listening to the voices of the world, also hearing the chatter from the mind of ED and the inner critic, which keeps them spinning. What would happen if you guided your client over to a couple of trees, where they can hang a hammock (which you thoughtfully put in their backpack)? Encourage your client to truly pause – and just be in the moment. This can be a challenge for clients, so assist them through visualizations and other EDIT™ skills. It’s like there is a spring-fed well that can suddenly appear anywhere your clients are, as long as they can be still and know their Intuitive Therapist is with them. This Inner Wisdom can spring forth, providing full-fillment from within, and clients can finally experience and appreciate their enough-ness. Guide your clients to affirm, “I AM good enough, always have been, and always will be!”

5. Believe In Your Self – Reach the Summit of Recovery Success!
By practicing the first four EDIT™ Principles, clients can begin to see the summit… only to realize that when they reach it, there is another summit that becomes visible. In the eating disorder recovery mountain climbing analogy, this is known as a “false summit.” It’s like working sooooooo hard, only to realize that you haven’t arrived to the top, and there’s still seemingly sooooooo much more to go on the journey. Somehow mustering more strength, the journey continues. But where is this strength coming from? Is it the small-s false self, who can experience moments of freedom from ED by controlling the ED behaviors, reaching a false summit? Or is it the Capital-S True Self, who has found a renewable Energy Source with Infinite Power and lasting Freedom from ED, which is always available by staying aware of one’s Mind? This is the Mind of one’s Intuitive Therapist and True Self, rather than the limited mind of the false self, still caught up in striving-yet-never-arriving, vulnerable to relapses with ED. Remind your clients that they have a compass (another recovery tool you tucked into an easily accessible side pocket of their backpack). The false self’s eyes are limited, but the Eyes of the Soul can see the Way (even in the dark). Clients might feel hopeless, like they’ll never reach the “real” summit, but with their Inner Compass, they Way is clear. At last, the mountain top is reached! Clients are so Grateful, often feeling Joy that they haven’t experience in years or decades. On top of this mountain, they have a 365º view of the world around them. They see other summits they can rise up to, and valleys they can venture into very deeply.  They realize that the journey of recovery can continue, by proceeding with the Confidence of their Intuitive Therapist as their ongoing Guide in Freedom.

“Love Your Self, Be True To Your Self, Express Your Self, Give To Your Self, Believe In Your Self,” you remind your clients, as they conclude their work with you. They smile and nod their head, knowing that this EDIT™ Message is always within their True Self.


Article may be reprinted with the author bio below.

©2020 by Dr. Dorie McCubbrey. Dr. Dorie is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Addiction Counselor who is passionate about training professionals to effectively guide clients in recovery from eating disorders. She is the President of the EDIT™ Training Institute LLC, which provides training and certification in her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™.  She also provides sessions for clients who struggle with these issues, either in person or by phone/video. Learn more at:


Want more that this “taste” of EDIT™? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions.  She provides customized programs for people in recovery from eating disorders and who struggle with weight issues, and  EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975 – GET CERTIFIEDATTEND ONLINE RETREAT

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