Your Teen and Body – Dysmorphic Disorder: Christian Counseling for Teens

When you’re the parent of a teen who struggles with body image, the saying that “knowledge is power” can be radically true when it comes to getting your teen appropriate help. I talked through the defining features and warning signs of the three most well-known eating disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge-Eating Disorder. In this post, I want to focus on a body-image disorder that is less talked about, yet incredibly important for parents of teens to be aware of, namely

Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

BDD is a disorder that often begins in the teen years and is characterized by a preoccupation with a perceived flaw in your body. The key word in that sentence is “perceived,” because people with BDD tend to focus on flaws that are either incredibly minor or completely imperceptible to others. Individuals with BDD may be extremely preoccupied with the shape of their nose, the length of their arms, or the color of their hair. By itself, BDD is not considered an eating disorder, however preoccupation with weight can occur in BDD, and both an eating disorder and BDD can be present at the same time...

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Managing “Ed” Thoughts: Christian Counseling for Eating Disorders

One of the hardest parts of recovering from an eating disorder is learning what to do with the constant “Ed” thoughts that stream through your mind anytime you’re anywhere. For those of you who haven’t heard of “Ed” before, this is simply a shorthand way that some people find helpful to refer to their Eating Disorder (E.D.). And for anyone who has ever met Ed personally, you understand the feeling of having your thoughts dominated by an unwelcome, critical, and never-satisfied voice:

  • “You’re fat.”
  • “Your legs are too big.”
  • “That food has too many calories for you.”
  • “You can’t pull off that outfit.”
  • “You need to skip lunch and double your run.”

Changing Our Thoughts Is Not That Easy

When someone is struggling with such thoughts, a common approach in treatment has been to attempt to change, “fix,” and learn to control those thoughts. In fact just get rid of those thoughts all together and replace them with positive thoughts....

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“Who’s to Blame?” A Christian Counselor reflects on Teenage Eating Disorders

When I sit down to talk with the parents of a teen who is struggling with an eating disorder, one of the first questions that comes up is “Who’s to blame?” Faced with this question, many parents wonder what they did wrong that caused their child to resort to such behaviors. And then there is also the less-talked-about but equally common response, where parents find themselves becoming angry at their teen for “choosing” such behavior. So we need to ask: who is actually to blame for your teen’s eating disorder?

Why Parents are Not to Blame for their Teen’s Eating Disorder

Are there things that you could do better as a parent? Yes. Is it possible that there are dynamics in your family that have contributed to your teen’s struggles? Yes. But if every teen who had imperfect parents developed an eating disorder, every teen in the world would have one. The reality is that eating disorders are complex and multi-dimensional, and we cannot point to any single contributor, including an imperfect parent. Moreover, deciding that you are to blame for your teen’s eating disorder doesn’t help your teen to recover. For many pare...

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Christian Counselor for Sex Addiction Explains How Misplaced Intimacy Harms Relationships

By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C , Seattle Christian Counseling

References “Wired for Intimacy” by William M. Struthers and “Out of the Shadows” by Patrick Carnes

All people long to bond with others. We want someone to share in our joys and support us in our sorrows. As Romantic pianist and composer Frederic Chopin said, “It is dreadful when something weighs on your mind, not to have a soul to unburden yourself to. You know what I mean. I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.”

How Sex Addicts Distort Intimacy?

Unfortunately for sex addicts, they share this longing for companionship, but cannot have it. For them, every relationship must be sexual. And their fear that someone will discover their addiction makes them keep everyone else at a distance.

Most sex addicts are sexually abused as children. Parents teach their children how to approach relationships. When a parent introduces sex to that relationship, the child assumes all relationships have to be sexual. (Carnes 59)

“As a child matures, there begins a search for what is dependable–something that you can trust to make you feel better. When a child’s exploration of sexuality goes ...

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A Christian Counselors Perspective on Boundaries

By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C , Seattle Christian Counseling

References “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

One of the marks of true faith is generosity. Every believer knows the story of the widow who put all she had into the offering plate. But how do we tell the difference between generosity and obligation? When is it OK not to give? In their book, “Boundaries” Cloud and Townsend draw a distinction between benevolence and obligation.

The difference between love and fear

Too many Christians give out of fear. They have been convinced it is sinful to ever refuse someone else’s request. Christians are encouraged to give out of their available resources, but they are also discouraged from enabling sin. Understanding what is and is not appropriating giving helps with that.

Signs you are giving out of love

  • You feel no resentment
  • You are repaid with that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with doing good
  • You do not expect this act to secure you a future favor

Signs you are giving out of obligation

  • You are motivated by what they will do to you if you do not agree (they won’t like ...
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How to Confront Manipulation with Christian Couples Counseling

By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C , Seattle Christian Counseling

References “The New Codependency” by Melody Beattie

Saying “no” to loved ones can be hard. You might feel as if you are being selfish when you second-guess whether their request is reasonable. This goes double if you are dealing with a manipulator.

The New Testament describes manipulators in Matthew 7. Just because someone claims to have your best interests at heart, does not mean they do. Jesus warned against wolves in sheep’s clothing. He said we would be able to know them by the results of their actions. Who benefits from their requests compared to who they claim will benefit? As with false prophets– do they persuade you by saying everyone will benefit from your compromise, but ultimately they are the ones who reap the reward?

Am I being Manipulated?

Manipulators use a variety of strategies because every victim is different, and requires a specific approach to guarantee success. Below are two examples of how manipulators take advantage of their loved ones.

  • Preying on your insecurities

Manipulators capitalize on your feelings for them, and your desire to be seen as a good person. No one wants other people to think they are unloving or selfish. Manipulators capital...

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Recovering from Codependency: Help from a Christian Counselor, Part 2

I discussed how codependent people can begin a journey towards healing. Codependency is a "relationship addiction" in which people become so preoccupied with their partners that they neglect themselves. If you suffer from codependency, you might feel that it is impossible for you to be happy outside of a particular relationship. However, there is hope for codependent people. Beginning the journey of healing involves recognizing your codependent patterns, making a commitment to invest in your own healing, understanding where your codependency comes from, allowing yourself to experience emotions, and learning to set boundaries. In this article, I continue this discussion by suggesting more concrete ways in which you can recover your true identity and live in the freedom for which you were created.

Examine Your Motivation for Helping Others

What motivates you to help others? Do you want to be noticed and liked, or to win people’s approval? Or do you care for others out of fear or guilt? Codependent people feel good when they are needed; in fact they need to be needed. But this means that  the focus is on satisfying your need to be needed, rather th...

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