Allison Ivie, Federal Policy Advocate for Eating Disorder Issues

What is your current position?

I am the Vice President at Center Road Solutions, a woman-owned, boutique lobbying firm committed to empowering nonprofits to achieve long lasting social change. We work with several eating disorders nonprofits and other clients to advance their federal policy initiatives.

How did you get started in your career?

After graduate school I moved to Washington, D.C. as I was selected as a Women’s Congressional Policy Institute Fellow and started working in federal policy for a U.S. House Representative. I had graduated with my Masters in Public Policy and Masters of Arts in Women and Genders Studies from Brandeis University. My passion was improving the lives of women and families, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. My fellowship helped put a finer point on what that could look like at the federal level.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

It is not uncommon for individuals to have a personal connection to the work they do, which can make them excellent stewards for change. I have found it to be particularly important to have reached a steady point in one’s mental health where you’re able to engage responsibly and diligently in the work that is so close to your heart. That certainly doesn’t mean someone can’t have a lived experience and not get emotional during this work. However, it requires great self-reflection, healing and taking care of your health first. There are so many ways to support work in mental health fields without it consuming your 9-5. I would encourage individuals to think broadly about the contribution they want to make and how working on yourself is a cornerstone of whatever contribution we give to the world.

Learn more about our work and our clients by visiting: 

Victoria Schonwald

Victoria Schonwald, RD, uses up to date evidence-based treatments to treat her patients at her private practice, The Eat Clinic.

What is your current position? 

I am an Eating disorder dietitian in Christchurch New Zealand. I have worked in private practice for 2 years and had a role in the public system for 4 months helping with FBT. I absolutely love working in private practice and the flexibility it gives me to work in the most caring and client focused way possible.

 

How did you get started in your career? 

I knew I wanted to work in eating disorders, so when I was studying I was focusing any assignments where I had a choice of topic about EDs. And as we know uni is not the best place to learn about EDs, so it was great to learn critical thinking skills and question systems while being diplomatic. I have also had lived experience with ED – so I really resonate with my clients.

 

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

If a student wants to get into this area I think you need to be prepared to do a lot of work. Including self work. I have listened to 100s of podcasts, read articles, joined ED FB groups to read and listen to sufferers to understand perspectives on treatment models. You need to learn skills that you don’t get in your RD degree. Working in a team with parents, partners, GP, psychologists – and most of the time you will know more than the rest of the team. You will become skilled in the medical, pharmacology, psychology, nutrition, therapy, exercise and genetics because it’s all so related to the food. You will be versed in the guidelines in all areas to help guide the rest of the treatment team with best practice. And you will be so passionate about it you won’t even care that you don’t get paid for 90% of the work you do.

To learn more about Victoria, check her out at:

Www.theeatclinic.com

Twitter: dietitian_tori8

Facebook: the eat clinic New Zealand

Instagram: @the_eat_clinic

Meghan Watson

Meghan Watson, M.A. RP, Founder and Managing Director of Bloom Psychology & Wellness.

What is your current position?

I am a Registered Psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto ON. I am the Founder and Managing Director of Bloom Psychology & Wellness, a psychology group practice focused on supporting the mental health and wellness of BIPOC clients in the Ontario Canada area. I work with clients through the clinic, provide consultation on workplace mental health to organizations and companies, as well as provide consultation/ education and supervision for other clinicians in private practice.

How did you get started in your career?

I completed my undergrad in Psychology at McGill university, and had originally thought I wanted to be a neuropsychologist, or work with social identity and group behaviour. I was a research lab manager for a social psychology lab focused on intergroup relations, as well as volunteered with labs in neuropsychology, relationships and motivation. I ended up applying to masters level programs for counselling and psychotherapy to gain more experience outside of academia. My first foray into eating disorders treatment was in my practicum during grad school, where I worked for a national US eating disorder treatment centre. Prior to this, I had not had any experience working with eating disorders and at the time was curious about exploring everything and anything I hadn’t learned before. I had the opportunity to work in multiple levels of care from residential programs to running aftercare and outpatient groups, and felt that the work was necessary and not discussed enough within the black and brown community. I ended up working in a large lgbtqia+ focused healthcare centre where I refined my skills in outpatient therapy and anti oppressive work, and over the years have worked in substance use rehabilitation centres, in inpatient and residential trauma and mood programs. Now, I work in private practice and have continued to work within eating disorders, complex mood and anxiety disorders, focusing specifically on the intersections of these within the BIPOC and lgbtqia+ community.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

My best advice to someone new in the field is to build a community of likeminded peers that share your values for the work you do. So much of our clinical work is rooted in developing expertise and learning new ways to treat clients and different modalities, that the learning process can be incredibly isolating. Start with what brings you meaning and value first, and you will never lose sight of your purpose. Bring others along with you who share your visions and work together on making it happen.

 

Find Meghan on Instagram @thrive_withmeg

 

Diana Dugan Richards

Diana Dugan Richards, RDN LDN is the owner of Namaste Nutrition, a private practice in Watertown, Massachusetts, a registered dietitian and nutrition therapist focusing on eating disorders, digestive health, and vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. She counsels using the evidence-based therapeutic technique of Internal Family Systems and includes the conceptual frameworks and practices of Intuitive Eating and weight-inclusivity.

What is your current position?

I’ve been a sole practitioner in private practice since 2007, previously, in the area of weight loss via very-low-calorie diets, prescription weight loss medications and surgical intervention in two academic medical institutions. It was clearly not the right path for me. When I was financially able, I created my own genre. As an Anusara yoga teacher, I taught group and private yoga classes, and created a Yoga for Mindful Eating series that ran for years. Marrying yoga philosophy to a deeper and more satisfying perspective of healing through Internal Family Systems (IFS), the foundation of my practice is solid and I haven’t looked back since my first training in 2011.

How did you get started in your career? 

I’ve been a maven for nutrition and exercise since I was 12 years old yet first worked as a legal assistant, then academic administrator at a College of Nursing, and finally successfully as a registered dietitian two weeks before my 40th birthday. My first position was as Corporate Wellness Director at a large, non-profit hospital in Little Rock, AR, then a move required I find new work in the metro Boston area. In Boston, I served on a DASH for Health website for 10 years and became a consultant for www.GoodMeasures.com. Amidst all that, a second job of teaching group exercise, personal training, and yoga kept me moving.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

  • Plant seeds – lots of them, then harvest what feels exactly right to you.
  • Connect – with local practitioners who think like you do, into professional organizations, to what lights you up. Be open and curious.
  • Share – once established, give away all that you’ve developed. There is enough of it all to go around.
  • Embrace mentors in all fields to have access to as much as you can in all aspects of your career.
  • Keep learning! Branch out into areas of interest that can help you create your own special niche.
  • Move toward your passion with vigor and tenacity.

Learn more about Diana:

Website: www.NamasteNutrition.net

Phone: (617) 678-0607

Email: dianaduganrichards@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dianaduganrichards/

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/dianaduganrichards

Twitter: @dianarichards

Upcoming events:

 

 

 

 

Virgie Tovar

Virgie Tovar is an author, educator, podcaster and fat activist

What is your current position? 

I work for myself, and nowadays I primarily identify as an author, educator and podcaster.

How did you get started in your career? 

My career started in 2011 when I was in graduate school doing research on the intersections of body size, race and gender. I learned about fat activism and fat studies, and it really changed my life. At the time, there were very few people working in that area – and even fewer who took into account race/racism when it came to studying body image, weight-based discrimination, and the relationship to food. I decided to pitch the idea of an anthology of fat women’s writing to a trade (non-academic) press as I was finishing up my MA. By that point I knew I didn’t want to stay in academia because it was eating away at my sanity, my power and my dignity. I wanted to help women know there was a different life that was possible: one where we never dieted again. The book was acquired, and it became Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion. Before the book came out, I started getting booked for lectures at some local universities. I think people were ready to have the conversation about how weight-obsessed our culture is. I think there was a lot of luck and a few very supportive members of the queer community involved in the start of my career. I think it helped that I had an academic background, which allowed me to know this subject very well from a cultural/sociological perspective, and that I was an irreverent activist who lived in a fat brown body, which allowed me to speak from first-hand experience. I’ve always been committed to bridging the value of a scholarly approach with people’s lived reality, synthesizing the theoretical and the tactical.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

The ED professional world needs critical approaches. It needs queer people, BIPOC, disabled people, fat people, working class people, trans and NB people. The ED space isn’t just clinicians. It’s podcasters, it’s educators who teach people how to create environments that don’t trigger people, it’s writers, it’s editors, it’s influencers, it’s parenting experts, it’s entrepreneurs. So, trust your gut, figure out how to incorporate ED into what you’re good at and what you love, expect pushback when you’re onto something powerful, be an early adopter, shake things up and follow the need not the rules. I remember being in grad school and my advisor saying that pursuing a career centered around fat people was “career suicide.” I’ve published three books and speak all over the country on this topic. Wow, was she wrong. There is so much room for innovation in the ED space! I think about the fact that the ED world is just beginning to understand that disordered eating is connected to weight stigma. This is so mind blowingly obvious, and yet it took decades to get here because the right people either weren’t in the room or they weren’t speaking their minds. The world of ED treatment has the potential to look totally different within a few decades. Be part of that shift. Listen to your intuition when you think about what’s working and what’s not, and instead of giving up or giving in, find the allies and the resources you need to make changes that help people.

Virgie’s Projects

Rebel Eaters Club podcast

You Have the Right to Remain Fat audiobook:

The Self-Love Revolution: Radical Body Positivity for Girls of Color

Babecamp: Break Up with Diet Culture E-Course

You can find Virgie on Instagram at: @virgietovar

 

Fatmah H. Al-Qadfan

Fatmah H. Al-Qadfan, Registered Drama Therapist

What is your current position? 

I am currently back in graduate school! I was working as a registered drama therapist for a few years in Kuwait, predominantly serving individuals in treatment for eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image issues. Right now, I’m a first year doctoral student in counseling psychology at Auburn University.

How did you get started in your career? 

I was a drama therapy student when I attended a workshop by Dr. Laura Wood on embodying compassion. This workshop opened my eyes to eating behaviors and body image concerns in a way that I had not considered before. I was suddenly aware of how bodies are policed, judged, shaped, weighed, elevated, and restricted, and how much of that was not in alignment with my beliefs around diversity, equity and connection. From there I pursued learning opportunities and training to expand my knowledge on social justice and eating disorders.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

It can be very intimidating to go against the grain, once you start unpacking weight stigma — especially when so many educational institutions and health service providers do not practice in ways that respect and protect all bodies. So be that person who speaks up. Set boundaries. Have difficult conversations and have them unapologetically. You will get better at it with time.

See more on instagram at @dramatherapykuwait