Patricia Roles' Virtual Counseling Room and Face to Face Therapy



Expressing Wants and Needs

By Jacquelyn Ekem

Eating disordered individuals often struggle with people pleasing tendencies. It can be difficult to confront others when we feel invalidated, put down, or simply needing clarity on a sensitive issue. Old ways of thinking and acting may have become ineffective, causing the individual to realize they need to express their wants and needs differently. It is important for the confronting individual to honestly evaluate if their reticence to confront another is based upon a people pleasing need to be liked or if there may be important factors to consider before confronting another….such as: Is this the appropriate time? Is this important to my ongoing relationship with the other person? Can I express my need or concern in a calm and respectful manner?

t has been suggested that our motive in challenging or giving feedback to another should not be restrained due to fears of "straining the relationship" (Young, 2005). Hopefully, one's commitment to maintaining personal and professional integrity overrides one's desire to people please.

M. Young(2005) suggests the following ideas for giving feedback or confronting another, in a respectful format:

1. Do not give people feedback on their personality traits. It is hard to see how one can change a description of one's character

2. Be specific, concrete, and nonjudgmental -- stay focused on the facts.

3. Ask permission before giving feedback --- ask if one may give some feedback on one's observations.

4. Offer feedback about touchy subjects tentatively. You do not have to dilute the feedback; just find an acceptable route to get the person to think about the feedback--- approach this challenge gently.

5. Give only one or two pieces of feedback at a time. When too much feedback is given, people often become defensive and stop listening. Be concise in the comments and allow the significance of the feedback to sink in.

6. Do not forget to give feedback that is positive, too. Emphasizes one's appreciation of the other's strengths. We tend to give more feedback that points out unknown weaknesses than unknown strengths. People like to hear what is going right, what is working, and what we appreciate about them.

7. Finally, use an open question to determine whether the feedback was received and how it was accepted--- such as: "How does this sound to you? What do you think about what I have said"? Or "How do you feel about what I have said"?

About the Author: Jacquelyn Ekem

Jacquelyn Ekern is the founder of Eating Disorder Hope. In 2002, she received her Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from The University of Phoenix. She completed her Masters in Counseling Psychology, at Capella University. Jacquelyn battled anorexia, bulimia and compulsive eating for many years, beginning when she was 16 years old. Her recovery from these disorders fuels her passion to help others.

Jacquelyn offers extensive experience in the eating disorder field including: advanced education in psychology, participation and contributions to additional eating disorder groups, symposiums, and professional associations. She has training in group facilitating, group counseling, and professional ethics in counseling. Jacquelyn is also an active member of the National Eating Disorder Association, Eating Disorder Professionals of Tarrant County, and the American Psychology Association.

You can contact Jacquelyn Ekem through the website A website dedicated to offering hope, support and encouragement to those suffering from eating disorders and their loved ones.


If you are going through a tough time, e-mail counseling can help you cope. Online counseling is available on this site via e-mail with Patricia Roles who is a registered social worker with over 30 years counseling experience as an individual, couple and family therapist. This is an alternate way to get professional help and support over the internet without leaving your own home. It is less expensive than face-to-face counseling.

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