Rachel Coleman, M.A.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS)
Facebook: Rachel Coleman LMFT
What is your current position?
I am currently in private practice treating Eating Disorders and various mental health disorders. I have been doing private practice for 8 years and have remained connected in the community with involvement in my local IAEDP board for a few years, consulting work with Hoag Diabetes Center educating staff on Diabulimia, speaking at multiple graduate schools on career options with Eating Disorders, walking and supporting my local NEDA chapter, and mentoring students writing their dissertations on Eating Disorders. Being in private practice is so fulfilling because I love watching clients learn to take charge of their recovery process in an outpatient setting but, since I am a social person and believe in the power of the community, I also love consulting and networking with other professionals as much as I can!
How did you get started in your career?
I was interested in what causes Eating Disorders when I was in high school and watched my cousin suffer from a severe Eating Disorder that led to years of inpatient treatment and a significant stress on her family. When I was in college, I read the book “Reviving Ophelia” and my career path was set! I majored in Psychology with a minor in Counseling at Messiah College, PA then attended the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA to get my Masters in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. I did as many papers and studies as I could on Eating Disorders in graduate school, but was still underwhelmed by the information offered to graduate students on this population, which has fueled my passion to help graduate students learn as much as possible about this amazing clientele and field of work. Upon graduation from Pepperdine, I began my Internship at Shoreline Treatment Center in Long Beach, CA as a Recovery Counselor, then Primary Therapist, then Program Director. I got all of my pre-licensed hours working at Shoreline and absorbed some amazing, career-changing, priceless knowledge and experience. I have taken what I have learned into private practice and learned even more by my strong and beautiful clients and treatment team I consult with on those clients.
What advice would you give to someone new to the field?
My advice is to get “in the trenches” so to speak. Even if it is low pay or seems below your educational level, get a job at a treatment center or ask to shadow therapists or RD’s for the day. My time spent working late night shifts at a housing program for clients helped me get a glimpse into what it feels like to “be at home” with a client and see them in their natural environment outside of a traditional therapy setting. It gave me an inside look into the anxiety that comes up while getting dressed, or the discomfort when diet commercials come on TV, or the difficulty in suppressing binge urges late at night. If I had not had that experience, I wouldn’t have been able to hear their struggles and see them firsthand. I highly recommend as much exposure as possible, as well as reading lots of autobiographies of recovered patients, to truly get into the mind and heart of someone in the recovery process.