Though I have been focusing on working with clients struggling with eating disorders for most of my career, something that I have noticed is that mental health does not exist in a vacuum. Every person has multiple issues in their lives, multiple stressors or areas of concern, and sometimes multiple diagnoses. You cannot treat one without treating the other(s).
This means that even though I am a specialist, I have worked with most mental health issues over the years. I find an affinity for several different diagnoses and types of clients.
The most important thing is that the client connects with and trusts the therapist they are working with in order to get the most out of the therapy process.
Most research agrees that the relationship between client and therapist is a more important factor in successful recovery than the modality the therapist employs.
In addition to eating disorders, I am experienced in helping individuals struggling with depression, over-control, anxiety, trauma, life transitions, relationship challenges, body image and self-esteem issues.
Inclusivity & Diversity in Therapy
Though most of my training has been through traditional models of recovery, I am striving to be a more inclusive therapist overall.
For so long, we have recognized that the myths around mental health & eating disorders aren’t true, but they aren’t really going away either. People of all experiences need someone to trust to help them in their recovery journey.
This is not a bandwagon to jump on, it is a fundamental shift in the way we provide therapy. We need to do a better job of questioning ourselves as therapists to address our own bias and the inherent bias in the mental health and healthcare systems. To that end, I try to engage in trainings and in conversations with clients, friends, and colleagues about the challenges people face.
Openness and non-judgment are SO important, and I hope I embody those no matter what I am doing.
However, I freely admit that my lived experience as a white, cisgender female with access to education and resources throughout my life is a barrier to understanding. I understand some of the challenges related to being female, being in a larger body, and having various medical experiences and diagnoses – but not all, because each experience is unique to the individual. My own struggles have (hopefully) enhanced my ability to listen, to validate, to be open-minded, and to help others with those experiences and any others that they might need a professional guide to deal with well. My goal is to reassure you to know that I am thinking about it, willing to learn, and aware that there is more I do not know.
There are a lot of ways that our mental health systems have failed, and one of them is that we do not appreciate clients as individuals. We have not recognized that people deal with similar issues in vastly different ways and that though there are some maladpative ways to cope, there is also no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ way to go about maintaining your health or mental health.
As a CEDS-S, I am a specialist in eating disorders, and have been working with clients struggling with eating disorders since 1997. For those clients, the goal is to guide the recovery process and make it manageable while also creating/maintaining your ‘life worth living’ so that one does not eclipse the other as the eating disorder often does in someone’s life.
I work with clients struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and other eating disorders.
I feel honored to work with you as you work towards your recovery goals. I help my clients to not only manage their eating disorder symptoms, learn healthier coping skills, and explore their identity outside of their eating disorder but to eventually understand the underlying causes of their eating disorder.
Since support systems are so important in the recovery process, I also support family members and friends of someone struggling with an eating disorder as they navigate their own complex feelings and role in their loved one’s recovery.
I am a Health at Every Size® (HAES) informed, inclusive therapist. I actively work to address weight stigma in eating disorder treatment, healthcare, and the world in general. This “Poodle Science” video from ASDAH is one of my favorite ways to explain weight stigma to people – I am not a poodle, and I do think most of my clients are either (click on the video if you want to know what that means!).
Genuineness – Knowledge – Creativity
There are a lot of reasons that your values are important in the therapy process, so I am going to share mine. Each of these values means different things to different people, so I will only share my top three values list (not my definitions and goals for each of them) to deliberately make you consider what these words mean to you.
Though I am primarily a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) therapist, I prefer to use an eclectic approach with each client to account for their specific needs. This will include not only DBT, but Radically Open DBT (RO-DBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Self-Compassion Therapy (SCT) and mindfulness training.
DBT – originally developed by Marsha Linehan to work with clients who are dysregulated and engage in maladaptive coping, DBT has become the main modality for most treatment centers working with clients with eating disorders. It focuses on four different sets of skills – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. There are a lot of great things about DBT, but one of my favorites is that is encourages genuineness in your therapist – before that, therapists were mostly supposed to be impartial and not express too much of their own opinions but let the clients come to their own conclusions. There is a need for that, but I see my role as someone to bounce things off of and know you will get an authentic and honest response from someone who is outside of the situation – even if I am not really objective (since I am always on your side, even when I am playing devil’s advocate!).
RO-DBT – Later developed by Thomas Lynch as a separate modality, it is in some ways the opposite of DBT – it emphasizes the importance of connection, openness, and flexibility. It is the therapy of choice for ‘disorders of over-control’ such as anorexia, chronic anxiety or depression, and OCD. This modality speaks to another temperament that a lot of clients share, and opens new avenues to them, which is why I think it is important and helpful.
CPT – Cognitive Processing Therapy is a type of therapy developed for people dealing with PTSD and other trauma or stressor related disorders, and it is ideal for working with clients who are not yet fully stabilized. It focuses on the client’s ‘stuck points’ in an attempt to move towards that.
CBT – the gold standard of therapy since the mid-20th century, CBT’s main assumption is that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, and that if you can change your thought process, you will be able to change feelings and behaviors that do not work for you.
ACT – As the name suggests, this type of therapy focuses on the need for both acceptance and commitment in the recovery process. Steven Hayes is the originator of this type of therapy, and it is also where most of the focus on values comes from.
CFT – Compassion Focused Therapy is a relative newcomer to the therapy realm (Paul Gilbert, Chris Germer, and Kristin Neff are some of the leaders in this area) – but the idea of compassion is so important and compelling. Something I have noticed over and over is that clients have much more compassion for others than they do themselves – and this is the focus of Self Compassion Therapy. Ideally, we would all treat each other with the golden rule, including ourselves.
Mindfulness Training – most of the above modalities have some version of mindfulness incorporated into them – and for good reason! Sometimes people have a negative idea of what mindfulness really means – the definition I like to stick to is being aware, in the present moment, of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations – without judging them. Mindfulness is not meant to be a constant – no one can be mindful all the time! Think of it as an option.
So I am the kind of person that is the same (except maybe for the curse words) in my personal and professional life. I do not have the desire to be anything else! Here are a few sayings (some from my grandmother or mom, others I made up or think I did):
- Start As You Mean To Go On (Coldplay/Grandma)
- Assume Ignorance, Not Malice (or Hanlon’s Razor)
- This moment is perfect as it is and exactly the way it was meant to be. (Radical Acceptance)
- The simplest solution is usually the right one (Occam’s Razor)
- There are always at least three sides to the truth
- You cannot be mindful all the time (no one can)
- Everyone can be mindful (if the definition is awareness + non-judgement)
- You have feelings every moment of every day, if you are aware of them or not; emotions are useful information
I look forward to meeting you! Email is the best way to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org