Knowing Who You Are: Spiritual Healing in Eating Disorders


Katie Dunnigan

date published

April 17, 2024, 5:26 p.m.



Finding freedom from an eating disorder involves asking important questions, such as Who am I? and How am I meant to be living? These are spiritually-based questions that require us to slow down, get quiet inside, and wait for the answers to emerge. If we try to force a response, or come up with it using our analytical mind, we can end up latching onto identities based in ideas of who we think we should be or what we’ve been told to be. This is our conditioning, which is based in fear and can send us on a path that we aren’t meant to be on. 

We have all of the information we need about ourselves within ourselves. There is a deep part of us that just knows. We may refer to this part as our Awareness or our Intuition. Others call it our Being, our Essence, or our higher Self. Many philosophical and spiritual traditions use different language to refer to the same thing: an inner source of wisdom, love, strength, and resilience. 

The problem is that we’re not very good at slowing down and listening. Many people fear being alone with themselves and go to great lengths to avoid silent spaces. With so many distractions available in society today, it is easy and tempting to stay busy, even if we recognize that our sense of wellness is being impacted. If we don’t learn another way of using our mind, it can feel nearly impossible to help ourselves: it is as if we know what we should do but we just can’t seem to follow through. 

So how do we reconnect with who we are and find true healing?

This is a big question for a small article, but here are a few ideas:

  1. We begin to recognize that inner silence is a human need
  2. We become conscious of how we avoid ourselves through distraction
  3. We learn to come off auto-pilot and into a state of presence
  4. We start to observe the voice in our head that controls us and keeps us stuck
  5. We practice mind quieting strategies to slow our thinking and connect with our intuition
  6. We open a deeper awareness that allows us to stay with emotions without becoming overwhelmed
  7. We start to feel what is it like to be connected to our true Self in silence
  8. We begin to see new options through our awareness, and feel safe to let go of the patterns that are no longer working for us
  9. We learn to come back to our Self (our steady centre) in the midst of stress or difficulties so that we stay on our own side rather than abandoning ourselves

Transpersonal therapy offers a unique and integrative process that guides people towards healing. It is a process that addresses both why an eating disorder started in the first place, but also how we can free ourselves from it. It incorporates many of the cognitive and emotional aspects of traditional therapies, with the missing spiritual link: rediscovering our Self. 

Katie Dunnigan is a Registered Psychotherapist in Burlington, Ontario. She healed from her own eating disorder many years ago and trained under Viola Fodor, psychotherapist and author of “Desperately Seeking Self: An Inner Guidebook for People with Eating Problems.” 

Katie believes in healing ourselves, and guides clients through a process to reconnect with their true selves, quiet their minds, develop intuition, and find purpose and meaning outside of their eating disorder. She specializes in blending transpersonal therapy and mindfulness. 

You can check-out her blog on eating disorder thought patterns and finding healing:

Katie Dunnigan, M.A., R.P.


Read more about