The Emotional Soup of Eating Disorders and Addiction with Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross – EP074

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There is a direct correlation between adverse childhood experiences and the risk for developing addiction, eating disorders, weight issues and medical problems in adulthood. While the vast majority of us experience childhood trauma of some kind, those of us lucky enough to enjoy the social support of a strong family and/or an innate sense of resiliency may not develop addiction issues. But those of us who don’t are tasked with the deep, long-term work of healing.




Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross is an expert in the field of eating disorders and integrative medicine and the creator of The Anchor Program, an online practice that provides long-term support for people suffering from food addiction and body image issues. Dr. Ross is the former head of the Eating Disorders Program and the Integrative Medicine Department at the world-renowned Sierra Tucson treatment center, and she currently works in private practice with a focus on treating obesity, eating disorders and addictions. Dr. Ross is also the author of The Emotional Eating Workbook and The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook.

Today, Dr. Ross explains her interest in addiction therapy and integrated health, sharing the formal definition of addiction and the central defining commonality among them all. She walks us through The Anchor Program’s five-level approach to the treatment of food and body image issues, describing the significance of exploring the emotions that drive addictive behavior. Dr. Ross speaks to her decision to shift from an office-based to an online practice, discussing the prevalence of relapse in patients who lack long-term support. Listen in for Dr. Ross’ insight around how to broach the subject of addiction with a loved one you are concerned about and learn how to find the right treatment program if you need help overcoming an addiction yourself.

Topics Covered

[0:59] How Dr. Ross became and addiction therapist and integrated health doctor

  • Family history of addiction
  • Western medicine doesn’t always work
[3:05] Dr. Ross’ definition of addiction

  • Give over power to substance, behavior or belief
  • Process addiction vs. substance abuse
[4:50] How to identify when to seek treatment

  • Lose agency (addiction in driver’s seat)
  • Impacts relationships, work and health
[6:49] The common theme among all addictions

  • Rooted in childhood trauma that changes brain
  • Loss of sense of safety, security or peace
[10:51] Why some children survive trauma without developing addictions

  • Innate resiliency
  • Social support
[13:07] The Anchor Program’s five-level approach to treatment

  1. Address behaviors (superficial level)
  2. Emotions that drive behaviors
  3. Core beliefs rooted in trauma
  4. Ground self in body
  5. Heal at soul satisfaction level
[20:27] Dr. Ross’ insight on eating addictions

  • Problem in how use food (not food itself)
  • Coping strategy (i.e.: numb feelings)
[22:04] Why Dr. Ross shifted from clinical work to an online practice

  • Impossible to treat trauma in 30 days, relapse very common
  • Provide long-term support for patients in treatment
[26:01] Dr. Ross’ typical client

  • Mostly women
  • Realize something missing
[29:35] What to do if you or a loved one may need treatment

  • Express concern in healthy, kind way and offer to help
  • Look for long-term approach and find credible program

Learn More About Dr. Ross

The Anchor Program



Dr. Ross’ Free eBook


Books by Dr. Ross

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