Caroline Balz

Caroline Balz
Psychotherapist in private practice
Chairman of the Board of the Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association

How did you get started in your career? 
I got started in my career when I was 12 years old. People, and their stories fascinated me and a truly believe my inner psychotherapist has been budding since I was a child.

Formally speaking, my career started when I chose psychology as my major in college. I wrote my thesis on “Body Image Dissatisfaction: the parallel subcultures of heterosexual women and homosexual men. My first job after college was as a management consultant, -a job in which I felt I was like a therapist to companies, helping them to define problems and create solutions.

Finally, there was a defining moment in my life. I took a good, hard, look at what I kept being drawn back to: people and their stories and when I had that epiphany I knew I had to become a psychotherapist. I chose the field of eating disorders because it is a disorder that to me, makes intuitive sense. Moreover, I find that people who struggle with eating disorders recovery or who are recovered tend to be people that live more deeply, have the capacity for amazing growth and connection and have so much to offer. I went back to school to get a second master’s, this time in counseling psychology.

Scared, young and yet eager, I began my internship at a hospital, and in-patient treatment program for those suffering from eating disorders. I found the multi-disciplinary approach was daunting and fascinating. I liked that the field of clinician’s seemed small and supportive and that conferences on eating disorders would bring familiar, friendly faces together. I felt challenged and stimulated and a profound sense of calm in that I was trying to help people and following what I believe is my vocation.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 
Learn as much as you can about the medical and psychiatric components of eating disorders because knowing when to recommend a higher level of care is often a tough call to make. Being able to speak with doctors, and nutritionists about potassium levels and urine specific gravities makes more meaningful collateral contact and hence good care.

Be grounded in your self, your strengths and your limitations so as to be able to maintain healthy therapeutic boundaries. Modeling good boundaries is something that our patients constantly challenge. Being able to ask “Am I doing ____ in the service of my patient or to service my own need in some way?” is a really important question to be able to ultimately respond : “I am acting in the service of my patient.”

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