April 2017 - Monthly News & Tips
IN THIS ISSUE
People are typically results-oriented when presenting for treatment of an illness, which is understandable considering the whole purpose of coming in for treatment is to get healthy.
So when clients with eating disorders sit down with a therapist for the first time, one of the primary questions they usually ask is “Will I get better?” It's important to maintain that focus on recovery. Choose a therapist whose goals are centered around your concerns and who has the techniques and training you need to get better. A key skill is the ability to organize treatments so that your sympoms will resolve.
With eating disorders, two of the most important considerations are resolving eating disorder behaviors and resolving the thoughts, urges and feelings that accompany them.
Therefore, the first goal of therapy should be to stop those eating disorder behaviors and then to help you develop a life worth living without an eating disorder. Your therapist should always keep these goals at the top of their list.
Stopping behaviors is an easy goal to measure. But, for many clients, stopping behaviors doesn’t mean they are fully recovered. From my perspective, I like to think of stopping behaviors as remission.
It’s like cancer. Once the cancer cells are gone, a patient is in remission, but the patient is not fully recovered. There are many phases a patient must get through before they can say they're cancer free.
The same is true with eating disorders. Just stopping your behaviors doesn’t mean you’re recovered, because there are many pathways you may follow as you move toward recovery. True recovery means not only stopping behaviors, but also diminishing eating disorder issues so they don’t control your life.
Most importantly, recovery means restoration of your connections: connections between your thoughts and feelings, your thoughts and your true self, you and your loved ones. Therefore, recovery means a life that is truly integrated. This should be a goal you and your therapist share.
For some people, treatment can take a long time. We tend to measure progress not in weeks or months, but usually in years. Truly getting better requires rewiring how your brain works, and creating a new sense of self, new relationships, and a new relationship with your body. It’s important to remember that it will take time, but it can all be achieved.
Mark Warren, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, The Emily Program
Courtney Fasano, Registered Dietitian, Seattle
Courtney joined The Emily Program last June after working in an eating disorder residential center for three years. The primary motivator to join our team — besides the fact that TEP is just a 20-minute bike ride from her home! — was our people.
“The opportunity to work side-by-side with inspiring people and learn from their wealth of knowledge and experience was a no-brainer,” said Courtney.
Courtney spends the majority of her time working closely with clients on nutritional concerns, but she also has the opportunity to apply her therapy skills in individual nutrition sessions, meals and therapeutic groups. In addition, she serves as the dietitian for The Emily Program’s DBT Intensive Outpatient Program that just launched in February.
“I love my work because I get to talk about my favorite thing — food — every day with some of the funniest, smartest, kindest, most interesting people I’ll ever meet,” she said. “It’s a privilege to get a front-row seat to witness my clients’ incredible learning, growth and change.”
She graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s in Nutrition Science and went on to earn her Master’s in Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA.
Learn more about Courtney and why we think she stands out!
TEP: How do you motivate clients to take a bite at mealtime?
Courtney: I use a lot of motivational interviewing because it’s all about rolling with resistance, highlighting discrepancies and resolving ambivalence, all of which are usually present when a client is faced with food.
I also encourage clients to see the bigger picture and how the choices before them at this meal can move them closer to where they want to be instead of stuck in an eating disorder cycle.
I also try to help a client recognize the barriers present and to use skills specific to them. So if a client is emotionally activated, maybe we’ll try to modulate body language and breathing to create a shift and decrease activation.
TEP: What advice can you offer new clients?
Courtney: I tell them this is probably the hardest thing you will ever do, and it’s the most important thing you will ever do. If recovery was easy, The Emily Program wouldn’t exist and you would be recovered already. It’s hard, messy, uncomfortable work that often feels worse before it gets better–but it will get better! With time and practice things will get easier. Trust that your team only wants good things for you. Even when it feels scary or impossible, they’ve got your back.
TEP: What's one of your favorite hobbies?
Courtney: A hobby that’s bringing me a lot of joy is volleyball. I play indoors once a week in the fall, winter and spring, and then switch to outdoor games when summer finally arrives. It’s been a really fun, new way to challenge myself.
Join us to hear inspiring stories of recovery from staff, former clients and community members. Recovery nights are free and open to the public. Upcoming dates:
In St. Paul, MN: Tues., April 11: Begins at 6:30 p.m. at 2265 Como Ave. • St. Paul, MN 55108
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"Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most." -Buddha