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Interview with Philippe Jacquet - Psychotherapist in London
For Philippe Jacquet, being a psychotherapist is much more than a profession, it is a real passion. The origin of this passion goes all the way back to his youth. When he was young, he too suffered from eating disorders. He did not feel right in his own body and became obsessed by his weight and his image. He also found it hard to feel close to others or to belong to a social group. He was ill at ease in all his relationships and especially towards himself. Later he tried drugs thinking it would help him feeling better but it became progressively worse. Finally, he was trapped in a vicious circle in which his own life didn’t have any sense and didn’t really matter to him. He was incredibly lucky to meet therapists who had experienced similar problems and who could help him make sense of his life. After several years of personal fight, two of which were spent in a Buddhist monastery, he too decided to study to become a psychotherapist.
Do you specialised in specific areas?
I specialise in eating disorders, addictions and traumatism.
How long have you in London?
I have lived in England for four years, I have worked for some of the most prestigious private clinics specialised in the treatment of addictions and eating disorders. In the course of my life, I have lived in many different countries. This has given me a chance to be face to face with other cultures and this is really fascinating. The challenge, of course, is to keep one’s own identity and, whilst becoming integrated and respectful of the country’s culture.
Do you have many French patients ?
Half of my private clientele is French-speaking. I am working with many women, who have followed their husband for work and who have difficulties to find their marks and who take refuge in food or dependence. But I also work with men who are occupying very high powered jobs and who have difficulties in managing their stress.
What are the symptoms?
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Reduced consumption of certain types of food and reduction of overall food consumption.
- Claim to eat or lie about food consumption
- Going to the loo excessively or use laxatives regularly
- Weigh oneself frequently and grant too much importance to slightest weight variation.
- Constantly heck oneself in a mirror and complain to be fat.
- Practising sports in an excessive or compulsive way.
- Gloominess, mood swings, low energy and stepping back from social life.
- Be constantly cold.
- Brittle hair and nails and pale complexion
- For women, absence of menstruation for three months or more.
The symptoms are:
- Negative perception of one’s body
- Sadness and feelings of depression
- Eating unusually big quantities of food without visible weight change
- Craving for sweet food or food composed of white flour in particular.
- Purge (by vomiting)
- Loss of weight by taking laxatives
- A regime of strict and excessive physical exercise
- Oral and dental problems
- Menstruation irregular or non-existent
This list of symptoms is only set as information. It can’t substitute itself at all for an evaluation by a professional. If you are worried by your eating habits, visit your doctor or call a professional therapist.
Where does eating disorders come from?
This is a very interesting question which doesn’t have one specific answer. There are many school of thoughts. I am sure that if you ask the same question to a psychoanalyst and a therapist who both practise the CBT(cognitive behavioural therapy), you will get two different answers. I think that these two answers. The answer depends on the conceptualising of an " eating disorder".
To understand better what is an eating disorder, it is important to realise that the excess or the absence of food consumption is just a symptom. It is the visible part of the iceberg. I am sure you know that the visible part of the iceberg is only the smallest part. The biggest part of the iceberg remains below, well hidden. It is the same with eating disorders. Behind irrational behaviours towards food there is a psychological and emotional issue.
I am aware that this article is to be published on the Internet and will probably be read by a large audience, therefore, I am not going to elaborate on my theory. However, if somebody wants a more detailed answer, then just send me an email to which I will gladly answer.
How do you heal patients who are suffering from anorexia or bulimia?
It is important to have a holistic approach. I don’t heal an eating disorder, I heal a human being who is suffering from eating disorder. Therefore, the person’s needs have to be understood and fulfilled:
On the physical aspect:
I ask all my patients who are suffering from eating disorders to undergo a complete medical check up including a blood test, I also want them to be examined and followed by a nutritionist. It is important to make a psychiatric evaluation to realize if there is any underlying mental problem in their eating disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.).
With these pieces of information I can evaluate if private treatment is preferable or if a residential treatment is needed.
The therapeutic process goes through the learning of the relation with one and with the other. That’s why my approach is based on my relation with my patient. This is when I have managed to develop a good relation therapist/patient then and only then, changes can be obtained in the patients behaviour. It is critical that the patient feels comfortable in this relationship to be able to begin the most difficult but maybe the most rewarding journey. During this journey, the patient will find who he is and understand his lifestyle: he will then be able to re-evaluate his values and beliefs. He will learn how to understand his own feelings and to handle them in a constructive manner. He will act instead of reacting.
My role in all this is to give support and to take on the challenge to help my patient change his lifestyle.
I have the following diplomas:
- C.B.T. (cognitive behavioural therapy)
- D.B.T. (dialectical behavioural therapy)
- E.F.T. (emotional free technique)
- Reality Therapy
- E.M.D.R. (for people suffering from traumas)
- master’s degree in “integrative art psychotherapy”
Does it only concern women?
As far as anorexia is concerned, women are much more affected by it than men. (Probably because of an important cultural factor). Culture emphasises the importance of women’s body. I have, however, also met men suffering from anorexia but it is only a small minority. Men can sometime be affected by eating disorders too. I am working more and more with men who are suffering from bulimia.
Do you think that the ideal woman image spread by the media contributes to women feeling more and more under pressure and is partly to blame for this problem?
Yes, I think that the media and the fashion industry have an impact on the way we perceive women and the way women perceive. It is interesting to notice that fashion is influenced by designers who are often homosexual. Therefore it’s not surprising that models are very thin and not much shape.
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