Dr. Sera Lavelle, Dr. Karolina Pekala, and Dr. Laura Faiwiszewski are Clinical Psychologists who specialize in using hypnosis and therapy based in clinical research to help people overcome their battles with food. They specialize in treating children, teens, and adults who struggle with a variety of issues related to eating, ranging from emotional eating and a difficult relationship with food, to more severe struggles such as anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia. The goal is not just to help clients end these behaviors, but also to stop viewing food in terms of good and bad in order to end the cycle of overindulging and self-blame.
The difference in our approach is that we fully understand the psychological reasons that people struggle with eating. Our therapists hold doctorates in Clinical Psychology and have specialized training in eating disorders and other concerns related to food. At NY Health Hypnosis & Integrative Therapy, we use advanced hypnosis techniques to help clients find balance and get in touch with their bodies, while also using CBT, mindfulness, EMDR, and analytic therapy techniques to help resolve internal conflicts and find peace with food.
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Dr. Sera Lavelle, Dr. Karolina Pekala, and Dr. Laura Faiweszewski are our experts in helping people overcome struggles with food that are complicated and complex, such as binge eating and emotional eating. They understand that people struggle with food, not because they lack knowledge about eating, but rather, because they alternate between being too restrictive and then overindulging in a way that leaves them feeling badly - both physically and emotionally.
Dr. Sera Lavelle is an expert in helping people with compulsive behaviors around food such as binge eating and emotional eating. She understands that it is not just stopping the behavior, but that it is a complex struggle involving a cycle of intense wants that feels overwhelming, followed by a period of self-deprecation, blame and doubt. This is what fuels the cycle. Dr. Lavelle uses her deep understanding of the struggle to help people understand their unconscious motives, while using hypnotherapy and guided imagery to find a way to get in touch with their equally powerful urge to end this cycle, so that they break and discontinue this cycle.
Dr.Karolina Pekala helps individuals who feel stuck or trapped in a cycle of bingeing, shame, and restriction that seems to never end. She provides a warm and soothing space to help clients evaluate their relationship with food and see the symbolic nature of what it truly represents, especially on an emotional and unconscious level. She utilizes a unique blend of hypnotherapy, DBT skills to reduce urges, and analytic techniques to help clients understand and the roots of the problem. Clients are then able to make long-lasting changes, not only with food, but with their emotions and their lives.
Dr. Faiwiszewski's area of expertise is in compulsive eating and emotional eating. She takes a directive approach, drawing mainly from acceptance-based and cognitive behavioral modalities, while integrating psychodynamic techniques, mindfulness, and hypnosis. Through this, she builds awareness of triggers to the restriction/binge cycle, helping to facilitate self-compassion and aiding in a person’s ability to stop the behavior before engaging in self-sabotage. Using her background in psychology, fitness, and meditation, Dr. Faiwiszewski approaches treatment in a holistic way. Depending on the client’s goals and concerns, therapy may involve setting goals on mind, body, and spirit, and may address daily functioning such as sleep, physical activity, nutrition, in addition to cognition and emotion. She works collaboratively with each client to create an individualized treatment plan, while incorporating humor and genuineness, to foster a warm and open therapeutic experience.
Some issues with food extend beyond emotional or disordered eating, and they are severe enough as to interfere with a person’s everyday life. While we do not view a person in terms of their diagnosis, there are times that it can be helpful to think in terms of the level of stress and impairment it causes. For instance, when eating struggles are severe enough, they may fall into one of these categories: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and/or binge-eating disorder.
Dr. Sera Lavelle, Dr. Karolina Pekala and Dr. Laura Faiwiszewski are experts in combining hypnosis and therapy to help people struggling with eating disorders. While many think of anorexia as a severe restriction, bulimia as binge and purging behavior, and binge eating disorder as eating large quantities in a short amount of time, they rarely fit into one clear category. Instead, they are different ways of attempting to control our thoughts and feelings through food. For some, it is the idea that we can feel ‘good’ about ourselves if we restrict enough, or that we can only be happy if we overindulge.
Dr. Lavelle, Dr. Pekala and Dr. Faiwiszewski not only address the eating behaviors themselves, but also the thought preoccupation, body image issues, obsessive thinking, and compulsive behaviors that accompany and are inherently part of eating disorders. Regardless of the disorder, they find that it is often not the weight or the food itself; instead, the problem often lies with the constant psychological battle within individuals feeling like they need to starve themselves to look good and overindulging when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
While most of our therapists specialize in working with adults, Dr. Karolina Pekala has received specialized training and expertise in treating adolescents and teens with eating disorders and disordered eating. More specifically, Dr. Pekala works with children and adolescents ages 10+ who struggle with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder as well as children and those who struggle with emotional and disordered eating who do not fit the classical patterns or severity of eating disorders.
Hypnosis can be extremely helpful for adolescents and teens struggling with eating issues at a young age, because younger individuals are imaginative, curious, and inquisitive; in turn, this allows for an openness to new experiences, such as hypnosis. The nature of this playful type of therapy aligns with the types of issues that are prominent within this age group, so it's a natural fit. Hypnosis also helps to soothe many of the anxieties and unhelpful thought patterns that help maintain eating disorders, and children are often relived simply by having a supportive ear provide them with with comfort and psychoeducation on what they are going through.
While it is never a quick fix, there is something particularly valuable in helping adolescents regulate their emotions, which can be very powerful in helping a child feel more in control while struggling with an issue that leaves them feeling so out of control.
To read more about how Dr. Pekala works with children, adolescents, and teens, please read here.
Struggling with our relationships with food can be one of the most difficult and all-consuming challenges a person can face today. Restoring balance with food and weight can have a greater impact than anything else in life, because food is a vital part of everyday living and because overcoming this struggle frees up emotional space. And yet, it is one of the most difficult problems to overcome.
People often come to us because they have tried traditional therapy, and while many report it has helped, they still feel stuck. Hypnosis alone, however, cannot adequately address disordered eating nor heal a person from an eating disorder. Hypnosis combined with therapy, however, shows considerable promise to those who have felt stuck in the past and are open to trying a different approach. In fact, several studies show that therapy with the addition of hypnosis can produce greater results than therapy alone, and many of our patients report that the experience of hypnosis has aided in their process of healing. Research has indicated, for example, that the addition of hypnosis is particularly helpful in aspects of eating disorders such as binge eating, distorted body image, food cravings, feelings of inadequacy, perfectionist tendencies, and resistance to therapy.
Once clients feel in control of their eating instead of food controlling them, they can start to feel more calm and in control of their lives in a variety of contexts. This change promotes a new confidence that they may have never experienced before.
Hypnosis in the Therapy of Anorexia Nervosa
The use of hypnosis in the treatment of bulimia nervosa
The Use of Self-Help Strategies in Obesity Treatment. A Narrative Review Focused on Hypnosis and Mindfulness
The Use of Hypnosis in the Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa
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