Stigma Reduction — 08 August 2014

A high-flying businesswoman who suffered from bulimia has re-trained and now aims to help other people battling eating disorders.

Michelle Parsons, aged 31, had a successful career in the motor industry, but developed the illness in 2007.

Having beaten bulimia after a seven-year struggle, she decided to re-train as an NLP practitioner and performance coach.

Neuro-linguistic programming was developed in California in the 1970s.

It claims there is a connection between the neurological processes, language and behavioural patterns learned through experience, and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.

Ms Parsons said: “With support, I came out of bulimia in 2013.

“NLP helps you to understand your thoughts and emotions.

“I had a great upbringing and was always striving to achieve; my eating disorder – binge eating and then making myself sick – was my coping mechanism when things didn’t live up to my expectations.

“I started learning NLP while I was still bulimic and pursued it further; I recognised my behaviour and understood where it came from.”

Plympton-based Ms Parsons trained at The Coaching Academy in London, supplemented by home study, to gain her diplomas.Apple and tape measure

She now works under the banner of Red Cape Coaching.

She said: “Coaching provides the key to recovery by breaking things down into manageable stepping stones to make progress.

“Both coaching and NLP help to recognise where the behaviours come from, while the NLP helps to identify what purpose the behaviour is trying to serve.

“I then use a combination of the NLP techniques and coaching methods to help facilitate the change and re-train the subconscious mind to be able to make progress.

“We replace unhelpful behaviours with more helpful ones, encouraging positive change.”

She added: “Eating disorders really can happen to anyone – it is not an illness that solely effects low-achievers, weak people or those with low self-esteem.

“I was a strong, confident high-achieving career woman, but sometimes the higher the performer, the higher the stress, risk and pressure become and often it can be these people that search for a coping mechanism.”

Ms Parsons works one-to-one with her clients, most of whom are women, to explore the roots of their problem and devise self-help techniques to tackle it.

She says that although the sessions are very much about them, it is helpful that they know she has had personal experience of eating disorders and understands what they are going through.

This article first appeared on Plymouth Herald on 6 August 2014.

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