InsideOut eLearning

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When Relapse Happens

Relapses are a normal part of recovery

It may not always be possible to identify triggers and early warning signs before a relapse occurs. 

Setbacks and episodes of eating disorder behaviours are a normal experience in recovery (i.e., periods of restriction, binge-purge episodes). Following a setback, it is important to validate setbacks as a normal experience.

Change often requires multiple attempts. 

Frame these setbacks as an opportunity to learn what does and what does not work, and to implement strategies in response. So the next time, the person will be better equipped to respond to warning signs and then get back on track with health practice and skills.

Help the person to develop a kinder and more realistic internal dialogue in response to setbacks: 

  • "It is not the end of the world this has happened, lapses are a normal part of recovery"  
  • “It doesn’t mean you’re not moving forward, you haven’t ‘unlearned’ all the strategies you have been practicing, it can just be harder at some times than others to implement them”  
  • “We know what helped you overcome this behaviour last time, so we can expect that we can get there again” 
  • “Purging once this week is not the same as when it happened three times a day for weeks on end”