Anita Johnston, Ph.D
Clinical Director for Ai Pono Hawaii Eating Disorders Residential Program on Maui and IOP in Honolulu www.aipono.com
Co-Creator, Light of the Moon Café online courses and support circles www.LightoftheMoonCafe.com
How did you get started in your career?
I always had an interest in women’s issues. Disordered eating and body image seemed to me to be the most pervasive and compelling issues with which women were struggling. In the early 1980’s there was very little help available in Hawaii — so to fill what appeared to be a growing need, I co-founded the Anorexia & Bulimia Center with a couple other professionals. Over the years, as the need for more intensive treatment options became obvious, I created the first hospital based eating disorder program on Oahu (1986) and then the first free standing intensive out-patient program (IOP) in the country (2001). I was given an opportunity to create the first eating disorders IOP Australia, and most recently, to create a residential program, Ai Pono Hawaii, on Maui where I serve as Clinical Director.
I initially wrote Eating in the Light of the Moon to help my clients in my private practice better understand their struggle. It has now been published in six languages and has led to an extensive international lecture, workshop, and consulting business, as well as an online platform, Light of the Moon Café, which serves as a live, interactive “workbook” for Eating in the Light of the Moon.
What advice do you have for someone new to the field?
Cultivate healthy doses of curiosity and creativity, develop a sense of humor, and find where your passion lies. Working effectively with eating disorders requires an ability to look at both the bigger picture and the details, to use your intuition as well as your intellect, and to think outside of the box. I would also recommend a commitment to personal growth and spiritual development so that you know how to feed your soul — since much of the work is teaching those you work with how to do just that.
Eating in the Light of the Moon