ARFID Success & Recovery

The good news is that recovery from ARFID is definitely possible.

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ARFID is typically a Food Phobia that is created by some mini physical and/or emotional trauma, and the reactive behaviour becomes habitual. Regardless of logic, a part of the mind associates food with pain/discomfort and creates internal rules and behaviours to avoid the experience again.

Habits can be changed. Phobias are extreme habits. ARFID is a phobic reaction that can be changed.

What is the measure of success for Specialist ARFID Therapy?

The goal of ARFID Therapy is for the client to be able to begin to explore their previously non safe foods without the old fear and disinterest shutting them down.
The following Therapy results are indicative for the 6,000+ ARFID clients who have participated in the Specialist ARFID Therapy process.

  • For clients aged 15+ to adult, over 90% experience positive improvement during the two session program.
  • For younger clients aged 9 to 14, the improvement rate is approximately 65%+.

For some younger clients there is not as much ‘skin in the game’ as there is for higher teens and adults. Sometimes younger clients are only attending because ‘Mum brought me here’ or are overwhelmed by nerves. This impacts the success of any therapy.

In simple terms, success means experiencing positive change.
A positive result from therapy is less about viewing outcomes in terms of ‘success or failure’, but more about experiencing some positive change and then receiving the encouragement and support to take more steps forward.

What does success look like, and does it last? Every client is individual, and so is the measure of success.

  • For some ASD/ARFID clients, just being able to sit at the family dinner table without having a meltdown at the sight & smell of food is an enormous step in the right direction.
  • For others, being able enjoy a slice of pizza after a sporting activity with their teammates, and feeling ‘just like everyone else’, is a wonderful start.
  • For school children, being able to go on school camp without taking their own food, means a reduction in the anxiety and embarrassment that they have experienced for years.
  • And for others, being taken to a surprise restaurant for a birthday celebration by a partner or family, without worrying about if they can eat the food, is something they’ve always dreamed of.

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Personal Effort
Changing a pattern of behaviour requires conscious effort in the early stages.

The therapy is effective in removing or reducing the old worries and fears around food, and then it requires the client to exercise personal effort to help the change become permanent.

When we go the gym to build muscle, we listen to the trainer and get shown the correct way to do the exercises. We practice doing the exercises with the trainer and experience that we CAN do it. And then it is up to us to put in the effort to practice 3 times a week to build the muscle. If we don’t turn up and practice, we won’t experience the benefit.

ARFID Therapy is the same. At the end of the therapy session, the client understands why their mind has been flooding them with these unnecessary feelings around food. They learn how to control these feelings, and hypnosis strengthens the desired behaviours in the subconscious part of their mind.

As part of the program they experience what it feels like to reach out and try some of their previously ‘non safe’ foods without their old feelings holding them back.

And the next step is the ‘Nike step’… just do it. By reaching out and exploring new foods regularly in the first few weeks after therapy, we give ourselves the opportunity to lock in the new mindset and behaviour.

Connecting with other therapies
Often clients who complete the Specialist ARFID Therapy Program, find that when they subsequently attend their Dietician, OT or Food Therapy appointments, they are able to participate more easily.

Once the internal food fear/disinterest response is understood (and reduced), the door is opened to try new foods.

Prior to attending Specialist ARFID Therapy clients might attend a Dietician, receive advice on what foods to eat or what foods to ‘chain’, but be unable to eat them. After Specialist ARFID Therapy the person is more able to explore new foods and get the benefit from the Dietician and OT strategies and advice.

People relapse with their new eating behaviours for three main reasons.

  • A new negative physical or emotional experience pushes their thinking back into ‘safe/survival’ mode.
  • They forget that they are the leader of their mind and stop the new process of exploring food.
  • Insufficient fear/anxiety was released during the therapy process.

The good news is that once the ARFID person experiences some positive change, they are able to recapture this behaviour, even if they temporarily revert to old eating patterns.
Often a brief follow up session is all that is required to reinforce the learnings of the Therapy and get people back on track.

Call now on 1300 323 203 or +61 3 8592 4735 to speak to one of our Therapists about the Program.

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