55 Eating Disorder Interview Questions To Ask Your Clients in Counseling Sessions

Eating disorders represent a mental health challenge often misconstrued by the general public. These disorders encompass various conditions linked to health, weight, appearance, and body shape, among other factors, all influenced by biology and carrying lasting health consequences. Below, discover 55 insightful eating disorder interview questions tailored for discussing eating disorders with clients during therapy sessions.

Eating disorders can impact individuals from all walks of life, irrespective of age, race, weight, gender, or geographical location. While symptoms frequently emerge during adolescence, they can also develop later in life, even beyond the age of 40. Although the precise causes of eating disorders remain elusive, research suggests a multifaceted interplay of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors.

Before delving into the various eating disorders prevalent in clinical practice, it’s crucial to emphasize that individuals grappling with these disorders may outwardly appear healthy despite grappling with profound mental and physical health issues.

Anorexia nervosa frequently springs to mind when discussing eating disorders. This condition entails individuals avoiding food altogether, consuming small portions of specific foods, or severely restricting their food intake. Anorexia nervosa manifests in two main subtypes: restrictive and binge-purge. It poses serious and enduring health risks, and tragically, can lead to fatal outcomes in some instances.

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Bulimia nervosa manifests through recurrent episodes of consuming excessive amounts of food, accompanied by a sense of loss of control over eating behaviors during these episodes. Subsequently, individuals engage in compensatory actions like intense exercise, the misuse of laxatives or diuretics, and forced vomiting. Those grappling with binge-eating face notable health hazards, including severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and gastrointestinal complications. Weight maintenance varies among individuals, with some remaining stable while others may become overweight.

Binge-eating disorder involves recurrent instances of uncontrollable food intake, marked by consuming large quantities of food. Unlike bulimia nervosa, there are no compensatory behaviors following binges, often leading to individuals being overweight.

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), more prevalent during childhood, can evolve into other eating disorders later in life. ARFID entails individuals limiting their food intake either in quantity or variety. Unlike anorexia nervosa, those with ARFID do not possess distorted perceptions of their body. It’s important to distinguish ARFID from picky eating; children affected by ARFID often consume such minimal calories that their growth and development may be adversely impacted.

The National Eating Disorder Association indicated that over 28 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime, and that rates are higher among women than men. Eating disorders are believed to affect 22% of children and adolescents globally. Additionally, one person dies due to the consequences of an eating disorder every 52 minutes. 

Early detection and prompt treatment stand as pivotal components in addressing eating disorders. Those grappling with such conditions face heightened risks of suicide and physical health complications.

Incorporating family members and loved ones into treatment programs is a common practice, recognizing their potential as vital sources of support and allies for healthcare providers. Studies have underscored the enhanced treatment outcomes in adolescents with eating disorders when family involvement is integrated into therapy.

Treatment strategies for eating disorders typically entail a multifaceted approach, combining psychotherapy, medical supervision, nutritional counseling, and pharmacological interventions. Psychotropic medications may also be prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with eating disorders and concurrent diagnoses.

Getting Ready for Your First Therapy Session with a New Client with an Eating Disorder

Preparation for your initial session will vary based on your role and the setting of your practice. Professionals conducting intake assessments in inpatient psychiatric programs will follow a different protocol than those providing outpatient psychotherapy. Nonetheless, taking the time to review any documentation beforehand can offer valuable insights and help outline a plan for the session.

Gathering necessary paperwork ahead of time can streamline the process and save time during the session. If your first meeting with a client involves therapy or counseling, having relevant worksheets at hand can be beneficial. Worksheets serve as effective tools during clinical sessions, facilitating therapeutic progress and providing clients with tangible resources to take home.

TherapyPatron provides access to worksheets that can be used for various mental health concerns. Examples of available worksheets that could be useful for clients who are living with an eating disorder include:

Eating Disorder Interview Questions You Can Ask Your Clients

Whether you’re conducting an intake assessment or guiding psychotherapy sessions, incorporating eating disorder questions can offer valuable insights into your clients’ experiences and present struggles. By utilizing these interview questions, you can craft a well-rounded treatment plan with achievable goals. Through the use of compassionate and insightful inquiries, you can establish a supportive atmosphere where clients feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Explore the following examples of questions tailored for individuals living with an eating disorder.

  1. How would you describe your relationship with food?
  2. Can you tell me about any foods or food groups that you avoid?
  3. Are there any rituals or routines around meals or eating that you engage in?
  4. How do you respond to feeling hunger and fullness cues?
  5. How often do you find yourself thinking about food or your weight throughout a typical day?
  6. Have you noticed changes in your appetite or eating habits recently? Can you think back to when these changes began?
  7. Can you think of any triggers or situations that lead to disordered eating behaviors?
  8. Have you ever engaged in binge-eating or felt as though you lost control while eating?
  9. Do you ever find yourself eating because of emotional distress? Which emotions do you find the most triggering?
  10. How do you cope with feelings of dissatisfaction or discomfort with your body?
  11. Can you think of any behaviors you have engaged in, or currently do, in an attempt to alter or control your body shape or size?
  12. How do you feel about your body and appearance?
  13. Are there certain body parts you’re preoccupied with or feel particularly insecure about?
  14. How do you feel that your perception of your body impacts your self-esteem?
  15. Have you experienced any criticism or negative remarks about your body from others?
  16. Can you think of a time when you felt comfortable in your own skin?
  17. Have you noticed any changes in your body image over time?
  18. What is beauty and attractiveness to you?
  19. Do you compare your body size or shape to others, either in person or through social media?
  20. Could you please describe what a typical day of eating includes for you?
  21. Can you think of any traumatic events or significant life changes that may be affecting your emotional well-being?
  22. Have you noticed any changes in your mood or emotions recently, including moodiness or irritability?
  23. How do you typically cope with stress or difficult emotions?
  24. How do you express emotions such as sadness, anger, or anxiety?
  25. How effective would you say your current coping skills are when you are feeling distressed?
  26. Can you tell me about who you tend to talk to when you’re struggling or feeling stuck?
  27. What activities or hobbies do you find enjoyable or fulfilling?
  28. Are there any healthy coping strategies or relaxation techniques you’ve found helpful when feeling distressed, overwhelmed, or triggered?
  29. Do you feel pressure from anyone in your life about your eating habits or appearance?
  30. How do you navigate social gatherings or meals with others?
  31. Are there social situations or events that trigger anxiety or discomfort around food for you?
  32. How do you feel that your eating behaviors and body image concerns affect your relationships with others?
  33. Have you experienced any changes in your social life or friendships as a result of your eating disorder?
  34. Are there any relationship dynamics or conflicts that you feel are contributing to your disordered eating behaviors?
  35. Can you tell me about how you communicate your needs and boundaries with others?
  36. Do you feel supported by those important to you in your recovery journey?
  37. Would you kindly tell me about any previous or current self-destructive or self-harm behaviors you have engaged in?
  38. Have you noticed any physical symptoms or changes in your health recently that could be tied to your disordered eating?
  39. Have you experienced any gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, constipation, or acid reflux?
  40. Are there any experiences or traumas that you feel may be connected to your eating disorder?
  41. Would you mind sharing with me your experiences with abuse, neglect, or trauma?
  42. Do you know if you have a family history of eating disorders or mental health conditions?
  43. Have you sought medical attention or treatment for any eating disorder-related health concerns in the past, and if so, what symptoms were you experiencing?
  44. Are you currently taking any medications or supplements that affect your appetite or weight?
  45. Do you experience dizziness, fainting, or lightheadedness?
  46. Do you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle or reproductive health?
  47. How would you describe your energy level and overall physical stamina?
  48. How do you feel that past relationships or family dynamics influenced your relationship with food and body image?
  49. Can you tell me about what you would like to gain from counseling, and work towards in your recovery?
  50. What motivated you to get help to make changes in your eating behaviors?
  51. What would success or progress look like in your recovery journey?
  52. Are there any barriers or challenges you anticipate facing in your recovery process?
  53. Are there any specific skills or tools you hope to develop through therapy?
  54. Are there any recurring thoughts or beliefs that contribute to your disordered eating behaviors?
  55. How would you describe your self-talk patterns about food, weight, and body image?

Final Thoughts on Eating Disorder Questions to Ask Clients

Thank you or reading our blog discussing questions for individuals with eating disorders. Mental health professionals play a crucial role in addressing the intricate challenges associated with eating disorders, drawing upon specialized knowledge and expertise to support clients. Through clinical interventions, clients can develop healthier relationships with food and enhance their body image, fostering transformative experiences for many.

For further exploration into the complexities of eating disorders and evidence-based treatment approaches commonly employed by specialists in this field, we encourage you to explore continuing education and training opportunities tailored to your niche within the mental health profession.

TherapyPatron.com helps mental health professionals better serve their clients. Our (editable, fillable, printable PDF) therapy worksheets can help you streamline your practice, effectively deliver different types of therapy, and support your clients be the best version of themselves.

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Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Anthony Bart is a huge mental health advocate. He has primarily positioned his marketing expertise to work with mental health professionals so that they can help as many patients as possible.

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