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Grateful For The Work I Love: Helping Brave Women Recover From Eating Disorders

A young client of mine recently asked me how I got interested in treating eating disorders. I explained to her that my graduate work at The University of Texas in Austin involved extra training in the field of addictions, with multiple internships at facilities that treated substance abuse and addiction. After grad school I took a position as Clinical Director of a facility that helped women with addictions, many whom had become homeless, and I provided assessments, counseling, and referrals to treatment centers for women of all ages, as well as help for their family members. I loved helping them uncover how they were using drugs or alcohol to medicate past trauma, or avoiding dealing with current stressors like financial challenges, childcare concerns, or relational problems. Sometimes it involved a family history of addiction, domestic abuse, sexual trauma or complicated mental health issues that involved untreated mood or personality issues. Seems like it was never one thing, but often many things contributing to their challenges. And sometimes, when my clients would try to stop “using,” they began to “use” food behaviors to replace the use of alcohol or their drug of choice. That piqued my curiosity.

I began to explore with other knowledgeable professionals why this might be the case. I got in touch with some eating disorder experts to understand food behaviors in more depth. Fascinated and eager to learn more, I applied for a job at a hospital that treated eating disorders back in the early 90’s. I loved working there with several psychiatrists who had been immersed in the eating disorder field for quite some time, and I gained experience working with patients on an inpatient unit, as well as an intensive outpatient setting. When I left for private practice, I stayed busy with my own clients, and I also put together an Intensive Outpatient Program at my office after the hospital ended their program, simply because at the time, there were no other resources in Austin. At some point, I ended my IOP program because it felt like too much, and other programs were popping up in the community to fill some of those needs. My work as an eating disorder therapist went on in Austin for many years.

I recently relocated with my husband to Des Moines, where I’ve opened a small practice to cater to adolescents and adults with anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, binge eating disorders, compulsive exercise, body image concerns and related issues. I’m enjoying our new city, my new clients, and love providing care for those bravely finding their way to recovery. I balance my work life with a love for writing music and performing with a band as an outlet for creativity. I also love to paint, do yoga ( I also taught yoga for many years, some of those at an Eating Disorder Hospital to Adolescents and Adults with ED’s) and spend time with our growing family here in town. It’s hard for me to even explain how quickly the years fly by, but spending time helping others find their way to greater balance and develop their own passion in life is a gift for which I feel most grateful.

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