Staff Spotlight, Lauren Mast
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Lauren Mast, and I use she/her pronouns. I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and have been with The Emily Program for about four and a half years. I am an outpatient and co-lead therapist for virtual CARE IOP for binge eating at our St. Paul, MN Outpatient site. I completed my master’s program at Adler University in Chicago, Illinois, in 2016. I moved back home to Minnesota in 2018, where I began my search for new opportunities to grow and enhance my learning. The Emily Program perfectly aligns with my values around food and body image, and I feel honored to have the opportunity every day to help people heal their relationship with food, body, and themselves.
What does a typical day look like for you at The Emily Program?
A typical day for me involves seeing four to seven individual clients and running one of our CARE IOP groups. I specifically run our Relationship with Self and Body group for CARE IOP on Mondays, which I absolutely love because I get to help clients address their relationship with food and body image and help them heal. In addition, I like to find time to connect with my co-workers for consult and support, or to just check in on our lives and share interesting things with one another. I love how The Emily Program has embraced an open-door policy for anyone to say hello when needed.
What one thing do you wish everyone knew about eating disorders?
So many things! I can’t pick just one. I wish there was more education in our school systems about eating, body image, bullying, and self-care. I wish people understood that eating disorders can impact anyone at any size, race, age, or time in their life. Eating disorders do not always look the way we think they do. People in bodies of any size can be struggling with an eating disorder. I wish people understood the impact that comments around food and body image can have and that we need to be more compassionate around people’s choices with food and their bodies. I wish our culture was more accepting of people in different-sized bodies. I wish our beauty and clothing industries would be more size-inclusive. Mainly, I wish the world knew how to embrace everyone’s beauty, inside and out!
What piece of advice would you give to those struggling with eating disorders?
No matter the intensity of your struggles, you deserve listening, support, and treatment. Your thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs are important! If you don’t connect with a provider, it is okay to advocate for a switch and find someone who can listen to you, help you heal, and make you feel comfortable in a session. The first step is acknowledging you are struggling and then working toward making a call or talking to your support people. You deserve to find happiness in this challenging world!
What’s something you’re really proud of?
Honestly, I am really proud of the person I have become today. I have changed a lot since high school when I left Minnesota for college. I was always social, but I was more reserved and shy in high school, as I often doubted my abilities. Looking back, I have a lot of advice for little Lauren as she was struggling to find herself.
Going to a college where I didn’t know anyone was one of the best things I could have done for myself. I was able to branch out and meet so many amazing people throughout my schooling who helped me grow into the person I am today. I became more confident and could accept aspects of myself that I struggled with throughout my childhood.
Also, I am always proud of myself when I can remember a password for my log-ins. My partner knows to leave me alone when I can’t figure out how to log into something. 😆 I’m working on it! Haha. I have radically accepted that life will always challenge us, and for me, bravery is admitting and owning our fears and feelings versus saying we aren’t afraid of anything.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working, I typically like to spend quality time with my partner, playing video games or board games with each other and our friends. We recently got into the newly released Zelda game; we’re often sitting on the couch with one another as we play on our switches, with both of our cats (Dorian and Jean) curled up on my lap.
I’m all about trying a new restaurant or going to one of our favorites for some self-care throughout the week. I also like cooking or baking new recipes at home, spending time with family when we can, and tending to our garden together. We recently got a bunch of new herbs and plants for our garden that I’m so excited to see flourish this coming summer!
When we can, we try to plan visits back to Chicago to see our friends and eat amazing food! I’m also a creative at heart and love to engage with any art form. I typically like to use polymer clay to create little figures/buddies to share with others and spread some joy around the office and with friends. I have accepted that I have a fear of missing out (FOMO) on things, so I typically am up for trying anything new and attending gatherings whenever possible, as I can find the joy in activities even when it isn’t a direct interest of mine. My partner can be very grounding when I’ve overbooked myself and need to find my calming, happy place again. My partner and I have been together for nine years and are getting married in June 2024, so we have been busy attending to our wedding planning and making it a day to remember!