Frances Merz Other MA, LPC
Weight Loss Surgery is a major life decision. People consider having this surgery for many different reason, not just to lose weight. I offer supportive counseling for individuals contemplating WLS, or who have had WLS. Supportive therapy includes: comforting, advising, encouraging, reassuring, and listening. The counselor provides an emotional outlet, the chance for clients to express themselves and be themselves. Also the counselor may inform clients about the challenges and successes of weight loss surgery and about how to manage it or how to adjust to it.
In 2010, I decided for medical reasons to undergo Bariatric Gastric Bypass. One type of Weight Loss Surgery (WLS). After my surgery I found there to be a serious lack of trained clinicians to help me cope with the challenges and changes I was undergoing physically and mentally. Group sessions were hard to find, or met at times that were not convenient for me. I also realized that many of the group leaders did not have adequate qualifications and first-hand knowledge of the WLS process. I was lucky enough to get some support online and directly from my surgeon, however it was extremely difficult to find individualized support and empathy. It’s atypical, but I had a lot of rare reactions and complications for a few years after the surgery. I felt that there was a need for individualized support, as everyone’s weight loss journey is unique. One reason I think I was successful at the weight loss part of the surgery was my training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and my ability to find resources that would help me. I also asked people who did gain the weight back…how it happened. I spoke to my doctor at length about how this surgery would affect me long-term, how people regain weight, and why there wasn’t enough psychological support out there. As my surgeon said, “I can fix the stomach, but I can’t fix the brain,” referring to the psychological aspects of weight loss surgery and our personal connection with food.
WLS supportive counseling for pre op clients, or individuals considering weight loss surgery is about helping you express your thoughts, feelings, and concerns about the psychological aspect of the surgery. For example many people ask, how can I not eat the same again forever? Can I do it? Do I tell other people that I had the surgery?
For clients who have had WLS, WLS support is about helping you navigate the initial changes and challenges you experience as you are losing weight. These changes and challenges can occur over months and years. Also, weight loss surgery is a lifetime commitment We are surrounded by food all the time. Issues come up personally and socially, as well as sometimes professionally. Supportive counseling is about providing support for you during these times, as well as connecting you to any resources that may be helpful.
Many clients post op stop seeing their doctors and support team through their bariatric center a few years after the surgery. My role is to fill the support side. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. I am a licensed counselor who has gone through bariatric gastric bypass. I understand the psychological aspect that isn’t always talked about among the weight loss surgery population.
WLS is an individual choice. I will never tell a client that they should or shouldn’t have surgery. That is a discussion to have with a surgeon or medical provider. I am not affiliated with any surgeons, weight loss centers, or hospitals. I am here to help you look at the pros and cons, and express your thoughts and feelings regarding this life decision.
ObesityHelp Contributing Author
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Location99 Kinderkamack Rd
Westwood, NJ 07675
Phone: (201) 483-3648