could spirituality ever actually *hurt* recovery?

spirituality-in-recovery
spirituality-in-recovery
“I didn’t eat breakfast, but it wasn’t restricting behavior because I was having a spiritual experience. God told me that he was sustaining me, so I didn’t need to eat.”

When a former client said this in a group, the other women didn’t know how to respond. From their vantage points (and certainly mine), this was clearly disordered eating and thinking. Though her peers tried to gently ask more questions to better understand where she was coming from, this client was just not in a place where she was ready to give up her eating disorder. She frequently quoted scripture and said she was always very connected to her faith and spirituality, and yet, had blinders on regarding the reality of her disorder and how it was affecting the parts of her life that mattered the most.

Spirituality is often a highly valuable component of recovery. In any kind of 12-step program, acknowledging and turning your life over to a higher power of your choosing (steps two and three) is a foundational element of working the steps. Of course, a person’s chosen higher power may be less spiritual and more about “Good Orderly Direction,” but spirituality of some sort is highly common. Even aside from the 12-step model, spirituality can offer strength and hope to people during the most difficult times in their lives. The most frequent benefits my clients identify about connecting to spirituality in recovery are:

  • Helps me know that I’m not alone, and that I am already enough
  • Connects me to a sense of hope that everything will work out okay
  • Reminds me of the fact that I’m not in control, and that the control my ED gives me is an illusion — so I can surrender to recovery even when it’s hard

To read the rest of the post, including 2 ways that misuse of spirituality can be harmful to recovery, head on over to Recovery Warriors. 

You might also be interested in my post on what it means to "be spiritual." 

Comment

Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.