Dr. Alissa Knight: Navigating Binge Eating and Body Image | Bouncing Back #49

In this episode, host Joahanna Wickramaratne is joined by Dr. Alissa Knight, a Clinical Psychologist, Researcher, and Founder of The Calming Suite in Adelaide, South Australia

In today’s fast-paced world, where societal pressures and the quest for perfection often dominate your daily lives, issues related to binge eating and body image are more prevalent than ever. Combining scientific knowledge and practical strategies can help individuals understand and overcome these challenges.

Meet Dr. Alissa Knight

Dr. Alissa Knight is a clinical psychologist, eating disorder specialist, and owner and founder of the Calming Suite Psychology Clinic Today. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Alissa specializes in therapy for youth (12 to 30-year-olds) with eating disorders, BPD, anxiety-related disorders, perfectionism, OCD, PTSD, and Complex PTSD. 

Particularly, Dr. Alissa enjoys working with youth (teenagers and young adults) because they have their whole lives ahead of them to enjoy and explore, and they deserve to be immersed in this happiness. She is often referred to clients who have been deemed “treatment resistant.”.

She takes so much pride in working tirelessly to build rapport and trust with these clients and be the one to show them they are important and have the capacity to change and live fulfilling lives.

Dr. Alissa also provides comprehensive cognitive/psycho-educational diagnostic assessments for children, adolescents, and younger adults. Her therapeutic approach utilizes a compassionate-based, integrated methodology tailored and individualized to the client. 

She uses 13 different psychological therapies. Her clients work collaboratively with her to choose a therapy approach they feel resonates with them, connects with them, and, most importantly, trust will work and meet their treatment goals and needs. 

In addition to her role as a clinical psychologist, she is still involved in research, collaborating with research teams in Australia and internationally. She firmly believes that both research and lived experience are the hub of inspiring knowledge that will lead us to better ways of system change in the area of eating disorders and mental health in general.

About the episode

Binge eating, defined as consuming large quantities of food in a short period, often stems from deeper emotional triggers. Dr. Alissa emphasizes that it’s not merely about food intake. It’s an intricate interplay of emotional dysregulation, past traumas, and internalized negative beliefs. 

The first step toward healing is to recognize the emotional triggers, ranging from inadequacy and rejection to past criticisms. Dr. Alissa shared strategies to overcome binge eating:

  • Understanding Emotional Triggers: Identifying and addressing emotional triggers is crucial. It involves delving into past experiences and how they shape current behaviors towards food.
  • Mindful Eating Practices: Mindful eating can significantly alter one’s relationship with food. It encourages a present-focused, sensory approach to eating, distinguishing between physical hunger and emotional cravings.
  • Schema Therapy: Dr. Alissa recommends schema therapy to tackle the deep-rooted beliefs and emotional patterns contributing to binge eating. This approach focuses on connecting one’s adult self to one’s inner child, addressing and healing past traumas.
  • Building a Toolkit for Resilience: Developing a personal toolkit filled with practical strategies, such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or tapping, can provide immediate relief from emotional distress, reducing the likelihood of binge episodes.

Body image issues often accompany binge eating, fueled by societal ideals and pressures. Dr. Alissa urges a shift in perspective—from focusing on external appearances to appreciating the body for its capabilities and uniqueness. Cultivating self-compassion and respect for one’s body, irrespective of societal standards, is fundamental to healing.

Overcoming binge eating and body image issues is a journey that doesn’t have to be walked alone. Seeking professional help can provide tailored strategies and support, fostering resilience and self-compassion. Dr. Alissa highlights that reaching out for help is an act of resilience, marking the first step toward recovery and self-empowerment.

In conclusion

Understanding and addressing binge eating and body image concerns requires a multifaceted approach rooted in compassion, self-awareness, and professional guidance. Individuals can embark on a path toward recovery and self-acceptance by focusing on healing from within and recognizing the triggers and patterns that fuel these issues.

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