One of the most common questions professionals and students email me is “how can I become a professional who treats eating disorders?”
These are a few of the tips I give to professionals who want to gain more experience working with clients who have eating disorders. For student studying nutrition, psychology, social work, medicine, psychiatry or a related field, it’s also a great idea to start thinking about the future and making a plan.
At this time, there isn’t a universal definition or criteria for what makes an “eating disorder expert” or to indicate that this is your area of specialization. Thus, it is difficult to know whether someone actually has the needed training to know how to treat these disorders.
There have been efforts made by several organizations to help professionals get the education they need to help people recover from these very complex eating issues. Eating disorders can be life threatening and very difficult to treat. For this reason, it is very important that professionals get extensive training and supervision.
You should know that most eating disorder professionals work with a team including doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, psychologists, psychiatrists, exercise instructors etc. So, be prepared to team up with people from a variety of other disciplines.
TIP 1 Go to a conference that focuses on eating disorders.
1. Feminist Perspectives and Beyond:
Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future Philadelphia Airport Marriott
NOVEMBER 12-14, 2010 http://www.renfrew.org/news-events/events/20th.html (this is an annual conference)
2. The Renfrew Center Foundation
Presents: The 2010 Spring Seminar Series for Professionals
click for more info
3. The Renfrew Center Foundation
Presents: Food, Body Image and Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community
click for more info
4. Academy of Eating Disorder’s Conference. June 10-12, 2010 AED International Conference on Eating Disorders Salzburg, Austria
5. International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals: Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak Phoenix, Arizona March 3-6, 2001
6. May 19-20, 2010
International Eating Disorder Symposium: Treating Bodies Across the Globe
Salt Lake City, UT
7. Clinical Recipes for Sucess: Advanced Treatment of Eating Disorders, May 13-16th Las Vegas, Nevada
8. June 4-6, 2010
Hungry for Hope
Glen Eyrie Conference Center, Colorodo Springs, CO
9. October 8-10, 2010
NEDA Annual Conference
Building Bridges to Education, Research and Recovery
New York, NY
10. March 30 - April 2, 2011
BEDA (Binge Eating Disorder Association) National Conference
Firesky Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, AZ
Tip 2: Read Up
Read as much as you can about the spectrum of eating disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge eating disorder, Eating Disorders, Not Otherwise Specified)
To find quality books: Check out www.gurze.net.
Download the reading list from the Renfrew Center. This will give you a list of top notch reading material http://renfrewcenter.com/uploads/resources/1061827027_1.pdf
Go to the library and flip through eating disorder journals. There are many. Start with…
International Journal of Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders: Journal of Treatment and Prevention
European Eating Disorder Review
Tip 3: Join a Professional Organization. For professionals who want to make contacts, this is a fantatic way to obtain a mentor/supervisor and to learn about the current forms of treatment. Also, many organizations, thankfully, have a student membership fee.
1) Consider joining the Academy of Eating Disorders. Becoming part of this organization will help you to learn more about research, prevention and treatment. Joining allows you access to their Listserv, which brings new topics on eating disorders right to your email inbox. You also get a subscription to the International Journal of Eating Disorders. If you are interested in research, joining this organization is a must.
2) The National Eating Disorder Association, one of the largest organizations in the county.
3) The American Dietetic Association www.eatright.org The world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
4) Binge Eating Disorder Association
TIP 4 Take Continuing Education Classes and Get Supervision
1) The IAEDP allows you to take classes and to obtain a “certification” as a CEDS (Certified Eating Disorder Specialist). http://www.iaedp.com/overview%204%20Certification%20Overview.htm
Remember that there is not, at this time, a national standard concerning what constitutes a professional specialization.
If you are interested in working with kids, go to Training Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders. The purpose of the Institute is to disseminate evidence based treatments for child and adolescent eating disorders. http://train2treat4ed.com/
PESI often offers courses geared toward learning more about eating disorders, mindful eating and obesity.
4) The Academy of Eating Disorder lists the criteria for what is takes to be considered an eating disorder “fellow.” Professionals who reach this status often have a great deal of expertise in the area of eating disorders.
5) The Renfrew Center Foundation presents: Online Training Seminars For Professionals
click for more info
6) If you are interested in mindful eating, see www.eatingmindfully.com for workshops and new books.
TIP 5 Find an Internship or Job
It can be challenging to find an internship or job opportunity, but practical experience working at a treatment center will give you a first hand glimpse of the job.
1) AED list http://www.jobtarget.com/home/index.cfm?site_id=9286
2) National Eating Disorders Association List
3) If you aren’t planning on moving, go to www.edreferral.com. Click on your area to see if there are any professionals or treatment centers close by. Contact them to see if they have an internship opportunities or jobs available. For example, if you live in Denver, you might considering contacting the Eating Disorder Center of Denver or the Eating Recovery Center to see if they have an leads on jobs or internships.
Again, these are just a few tips to get you started. There are many other paths and avenues. Find a good mentor or ask your school advisor for additional tips. Helping people recovering from eating disorders is one of the most challenging jobs you can do but incredibly rewarding. Best wishes on your journey!
By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Mindful Eating 101, and Eat, Drink & Be Mindful www.eatingmindfully.com
**If you have additional suggestions, please email and this will be added to this list.