Being SMART in Recovery
Posted on June 17, 2019
Having support throughout your recovery process is essential. On the days we're doing well, our support systems can continue to lift us higher. On the days we're struggling, our support systems may be the ones that help bring us through it. Throughout the treatment process, the focus tends to be on you and what you can do differently. It makes sense – this is your eating disorder, and your recovery process. You can only control your own actions. But what would it be like without your friends, your family, even your treatment team supporting you? Would you be able to continue all the hard work on your own?
Identifying who in your life you can depend on to be there for you is one of the first steps to take in the recovery process. When you enter into treatment, you're asked who you can do family sessions with. This is not just about educating your loved ones about eating disorders in general. It's about educating and providing information to your loved ones about you, and your struggles, and what you'd like from them as support. Sometimes it can be difficult to ask our loved ones for help. What gets in the way of reaching out for support? Maybe you have thoughts such as "I don't want to be a burden," "I'm not worthy," "I don't want to worry them," and more.
When you are able to ask for help, try to ask SMARTly. A SMART request is Specific, Meaningful, Action-oriented, Real, and Time-bound. Specific: state exactly what you need, such as "I need you to sit with me while I eat dinner." Meaningful: why you need it – "I've been having a difficult time eating dinner alone." Action-oriented: ask for something to be done, for example "Please sit with me while I eat and have a conversation with me." Real: be authentic about your request. Don't make up something that masks the real reason you're asking, so that you avoid being vulnerable. Show your vulnerability with your request. Lastly, make it time-bound: say when you need it. "Come sit with me at dinner tonight or tomorrow." When you ask SMARTly, it helps your loved ones more clearly understand what you need help with, rather than having to guess at what you're wanting.
Taylor Forster, M.Ed, is the Program and Aftercare Coordinator at The Renfrew Center of Florida. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Florida Atlantic University. Taylor started as an intern in 2018 at the Coconut Creek site before being hired full time in January of 2019 and is looking forward to continuing to support and encourage Renfrew's patients in their recovery process. She hopes to one day become a Primary Therapist so she can further help support patients through their recovery.