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Unlocking Emotional Issues May Be Key to Extreme Weight Loss

ABC/CRAIG SJODIN(NEW YORK) -- Chris Powell, the man who orchestrates each jaw-dropping weight transformation on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, says his secret as a hard-charging trainer has less to do with exercising people's bodies than exorcising their demons.

"There is a tie to some kind of emotional trauma, in the past, of people I've worked with, and that trauma is typically unaddressed," he said.

Powell has helped 11 super-obese people lose more than a ton of weight on the show: 2,198 pounds, to be exact. But in addition to helping people shrink to half their size, Powell also has gotten them to open up about a whole range of psychological issues, including sexual abuse and alcoholism.

Although he admits he is "absolutely not" professionally qualified to advise on these issues, Powell said he approaches it like a friend would.

"I know what's out of my scope of practice with some of these deep-rooted psychological issues," he said. "That's why we have therapists on board with us."

"I think we all have a desire to feel significant in the world," he said. "It's not about me doing nice things for other people. I get something out of this, and its fulfillment. This is the best addiction in the world."

Watch the full story on ABC’s Nightline Friday at 11:35 ET/PT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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