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May 4, 2020

Staff Spotlight, Michael Butchko

Staff Spotlight, Michael Butchko

Tell us about yourself! 

I am a licensed psychologist, program coordinator for our eating disorder/substance use disorder (EDSUD) intensive program, and clinical manager for our amazing program coordinators and postdoctoral psychology fellows at our Como treatment center in St. Paul, MN.

When I am not at work, I enjoy spending quality time with my partner, our two-year-old son, and our dog Neumann (named after my favorite television show, Seinfeld!). Also, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our second son at the end of June. Finally, we are devoted Minnesota sports fans (i.e., Wild, Vikings, Twins), enjoy traveling, and love to be outside and exploring Minnesota.

What is the relationship between eating disorders and substance use disorders? 

There is a strong intersection between eating disorders and substance use disorders. For most people, eating disorder symptoms occur first, and substance use typically is used as an attempt to quiet, numb, or alleviate the distress that the eating disorder is causing. For a small period of time, substance use may serve as an adaptive coping strategy, but it becomes dangerous when that is the only strategy an individual has in fighting their eating disorder. As the eating disorder symptoms intensify, so does the intake of substances. As a result, many people suffer significant physiological, environmental, legal, and social consequences.

When one seeks treatment, they often either focus solely on their eating disorder or substance use. The problem with this is that when treating one, the other intensifies, similar to the arcade game Whack-a-Mole. Therefore, it is essential that both the eating disorder and substance use are treated at the same time, under the care of a multidisciplinary treatment team. The focus of treatment is to assist clients in gaining new resources, relationships, and psychological tools to better solve problems, cope with distress, regulate their emotions, and communicate their needs. The ultimate goal is to be able to live a life worth living without resorting to eating disorder symptoms or substances.

Describe some of the research you’ve been involved in. 

While I was a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, my research interests pertained to the psychological study of men and masculinity. My research projects were designed and implemented to better understand men’s eating disorder symptomatology and body image, gender role conflict, men’s internet pornography consumption, men’s violence against women, men’s sexual objectification of women, and why men seek paid sexual encounters. 

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I am an ice hockey official with the Minnesota State High School league and have been officiating hockey for the last 16 years. Also, I am an avid Nebraska Cornhusker football fan (GO BIG RED!!!), and I officiate wedding ceremonies in the state of Minnesota. Finally, my wife and I love to attend live theater and my favorite shows are Next to Normal, HamiltonHarry Potter and the Cursed Child, and Wicked.

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