Get To Know Violeta Gaddum
Systemic and Family Psychotherapist
Fighting an eating disorder is far from being a straight forward process, and young people are commonly quite ambivalent about it. Recovering from an eating disorder is the most difficult thing your child will ever go through in their lives. Needless to say, they can’t do alone, although they
might try to convince you that they can.
Over the last decade, I specialised in the treatment of adults and young people struggling with eating disorders. As a Family Therapist, my role has been to involve families in the treatment, not because we see them as part of the problem, but because families are part of the solution; families are our golden key in the recovery journey. For that reason, part of the treatment involves helping parents understand what eating disorders are, and how they fit in the treatment; it also involves sharing our tools with them, so treatment and care can continue between sessions.
Having a loved one struggling with a mental illness turns your family-life upside down. Each member of the family will have a different relationship with the illness, and frequently parents/carers find themselves caught up in unhelpful interactions, which can be driven by guilt, sadness, or anger.
Some of the common issues parents bring to Family Therapy are:
1. Your child is not yet ready to acknowledge their relationship with food is a problem, or the
gravity of that problem. In any case, they are not yet contemplating change. In the meantime, parents are desperate to help, to find ways in which they can support their loved ones. That, in turn, takes a toll on relationships and might result in the young person becoming more defensive and disconnected from parents or family.
2. Your child is talking about change and receiving individual support, but you are feeling out of the loop, without clear guidelines or directions on how to support them.
3. Your child’s illness has inadvertently accentuated conflicts and unhelpful patterns of communication, and you find yourselves escalating arguments, or treading on eggshells, and you are struggling to cope with your own emotions. In any case, an eating disorder puts tremendous strain on families’ coping strategies. If you are in this situation, do not hesitate and give me a call.
My story starts in Brazil, where I trained for five years to become a Clinical Psychologist. That followed a three years post graduate studies to specialise in Family Therapy. I then moved to the UK where I trained further and received a Master’s degree in Family Therapy from King’s College London. Since then, I have been immersed in the treatment of eating disorders within the NHS.
Adding to my clinical role I was also responsible for the coordination and facilitation of the service’s Family Support Package, which consisted on a 6-week workshop programme for parents, aiming to provide them with tools to help their child’s journey to recovery.
At the end of 2019 my family and I moved to New Zealand, where I now work privately and continue to support families getting through this process. I am fortunate to be able to also continue working with clients from the UK, as we benefit from online platforms for meetings and sessions. Online therapy is an incredible resource, especially if you find it difficult to commute and travel for appointments for any reason, or need appointments outside usual working hours.
For a detailed CV, please check my page on LinkedIn.