I want to highlight a resource that I am not sure many people know about: Project HEAL. They have an amazing blog, and a mission that I really believe in as a clinician. Their goal is to “break down systemic, healthcare, and financial barriers to eating disorder healing.”
Just in case you are interested, here is my mission, vision, and values that I shared a few weeks ago on the blog also!
Even as I was filling out their application to be a “Friend” in HEALing, it made me think about my motivations as a clinician. Since one of my goals in my private practice is authenticity and transparency, I will share the parts of my application to be a Project HEALer with all of you:
Why eating disorders?
First, they asked how I had come to be trained to work with clients with eating disorders. Here is my answer:
Initially, I started working with clients struggling with eating disorders (ED) during my internship at Dominion Hospital in Virginia in 1997. Next, I went to get my MSW in Baltimore and worked with all types of clients, including ED, in the CBMH outpatient setting and then moved to JHMI PHP in 2002. I went to work in the inpatient/PHP/IOP eating disorder unit at JHMI in Baltimore in 2004. In 2007, I moved to Wilmington, NC and worked with clients struggling with EDs on a multi-disciplinary team with PMHNPs and dietitians from 2007-2021at the Chrysalis Center. While I was there, we developed the IOP program that is still running and I worked with several new therapists and graduate students to help them learn how to work with clients struggling with EDs. I attained my CEDS-S from iaedp in 2017. I moved to Virginia in 2021 to help open the first ED focused IOP/PHP in Norfolk at Prosperity, and have been working in a virtual outpatient private practice (Wind Over Water) setting since.
Next, they asked about my approach to treating eating disorders:
Using several different modalities (primarily DBT & RO-DBT but also including ACT, CBT, MBSR, CFT, CPT, etc.) I try to approach clients struggling with eating disorders using a stages of change model, then identifying and reducing harm behaviors, identifying and managing quality of life interfering behaviors, and then supporting their journey when they reach the maintenance stage.
I believe that you must treat the whole person, including medical issues, psychiatric comorbidities, and addiction simultaneously, though some issues (notably trauma) may need to be more fully addressed once the client is medically and psychiatrically stable.
Hot Button Issues
They asked questions about HAES© & weight neutrality:
Though it has traditionally been a major focus of ED treatment and the DSM, there are many problems with using weight as a measure of health; I prefer to use behaviors as my main focus. (*note to ProjectHEAL – I would have said a lot more about this if there had been space!)
Diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings you have completed related to race, gender, and sexuality:
I have attended several different trainings – at Renfrew in 2019, webinars from Carolina House and ERC, and also in diversity in general mental health. All of these have been in the last three years. It is something I plan to pursue more of – in the last two years, there has been so much more attention to diversity issues and so much growth, which I hope is reflected in my work with clients.
And they asked how I heard about them:
I have worked with Project HEAL at other treatment centers and like your blog and the mission of the organization. Since I am now in a position to contribute to that, I want to be part of the solution.
Filling this out helped me connect to why I want to continue to do this work and why it is important in general. Expert treatment in eating disorders is very hard to come by, and I hope that by focusing on a virtual outpatient platform, I will be able to fill a gap in my community.
Email me to schedule an appointment!