Weight Loss and Verbal Abuse Success Story

To honor our confidentiality commitment to our clients, the story below uses the fictional name of “Jill.” “Jill” worked with counselor Catherine Hunter, LCSW, CADC, PMH-C.

What initiated counseling?
Jill planned to have gastric bypass surgery because she needed to lose 100 pounds and manage her diabetes. Before having the surgery, her insurance company required her to receive counseling.

What did Jill discover?
Jill was surprised that her counseling sessions uncovered verbal abuse by her family. “Through my sessions with Catherine, I finally admitted what I knew deep down inside. I learned that my husband, son, and mother-in-law were trying to make me a scapegoat and I was stuffing down my feelings with food,” explained Jill.

How did the counseling sessions work?
Catherine and Jill approached the problem from emotional, physical, and relational perspectives. Talking about Jill’s life helped her understand feelings that were deep down inside. Reading materials encouraged Jill to assess her feelings and realize that other people faced similar challenges. “Catherine recommended a book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship and Codependent No More. Every line in the book was me and how I interacted with my husband,” said Jill.

In addition, counseling focused on the physical aspects of managing her weight, including food journaling, exercise accountability, and boundary setting. Catherine worked hand-in-hand with Jill’s medical/gastric nurse and contacted her doctor to ensure treatment alignment. Jill also worked out daily, which contributed greatly to her self-esteem.

Catherine and Jill partnered as a team to support the entire body—spirit, emotional, and mind connections. They prayed that God would provide the strength to help Jill love herself enough to stop killing herself with food. “With Catherine’s warm smiling face and many prayers, I learned to just be myself and the need to make myself happy,” explained Jill.

How did counseling help you with the most difficult changes?
Discussing childhood was challenging. Jill carried a lot on her shoulders as the caretaker for a sick mother, taking verbal abuse, and dealing with the deaths of two brothers. “Catherine made it more comfortable for me by sharing her childhood stories,” said Jill. “It truly was a safe zone.”

Setting boundaries with her verbally abusive husband was very difficult. Although Jill’s first reaction was divorce as the easy way out, she learned the powerful tool of self-assertion and setting expectations of being treated with respect. “We practiced scenarios,” explained Jill. “If he said something abusive, I practiced a response that clearly stated ‘I don’t want you to treat me that way.’” Jill also stopped verbal abuse from her son and mother-in-law using this technique and her daughter learned from her example, which created a safer home for all women.

Any advice?
Jill believes that over-eaters blame themselves first. She advises, “Get over that hump and get help. You are not doing this to yourself on purpose, so give yourself a break.”

How has counseling changed her life?
Jill lost 100 pounds, which has been noticed by her friends, fellow aquatic instructors, and students. What she gained back is her smile and confidence. The therapy is so freeing and I am proud of my accomplishments,” said Jill. “I like myself. Insurance and Catherine did me a great favor.”

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