Getting the Right Help Too Early Is Getting the Wrong Help

(An excerpt from Walking a Fine Line: Being Professional in the New Age, a book I wrote in the early  90′s that’s been living in my closet. This is a true story, but the names and details have been changed to protect the person’s identity.)


Sally suffered from an eating disorder, bulimia.  She had struggled with a negative body-image and a painful pattern of binging and purging for many years.

Although the bulimic behavior was relatively under control, she still had a very difficult time accepting her body the way that it was, set very high standards for herself in relation to diet and exercise, and had a painful track record of self-sabotage.


Carrying a history of repeated weight loss failure in her psychological suitcase, she went to a spiritual nutritionist filled with new hope.


This particular nutritionist greeted her with enthusiasm. He used an eating program that was ‘spiritually and physically sound’, specifically designed for her body’s needs, healthfully focused on life style changes as opposed to crash and burn dieting. He guaranteed her that together, they could whip her body into shape.


There was only one problem — one neither Sally nor the nutritionist was able to see:


She wasn’t ready.


No matter how enthusiastic the nutritionist’s client seemed, she was still too entangled in her inner body battle to use his methods in a self-loving way.  In her psyche, it was just another diet, another way to deprive herself… and in the end, another reason to fail, and to beat herself up.


Sometimes, as professionals, we need to take some time to assess our clients’ and students’ readiness for what we have to offer.


The best and most effective methods in the world are worth nothing if given to people who are not ready to receive the methods’ gifts.


Understanding this truth means that sometimes, in order to serve people in the best way possible, we will have to turn people away, refer them to someone else, or tell them to come back when they have done whatever it takes to prepare themselves for the valuable gifts that we do have.




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