This blog post is a 4-Part Series of stories shared by clinicians that specialize in working with clients struggling with eating disorders. Kate, Jane, Rachele and myself are all passionate about our work for various different reasons and we all share a mission: bring awareness and support to the eating disorder community.
My hopes for this series are that it brings people struggling with eating disorders faith - that recovery is possible, validation - that what you are struggling with is real and valid and courage - to get the help that you deserve. I hope that for people who do not struggle with eating disorders is that this series brings awareness, education and compassion towards those who are.
Stephanie Polizzi, LMHC, Eating Disorder Specialist
I work with teens and adults struggling with their relationship with food, their body-image and their self-esteem. I myself did not struggle with an eating disorder, however, I have struggled in my own ways with my mental health. I am starting this series with sharing my own story of how and why I became a therapist working with clients who struggle with eating disorders.
As an undergraduate psychology major, I remember the day I became interested in working with clients struggling with eating disorders. As I was reading and learning about eating disorders, something clicked for me and I knew this population was something I wanted to pursue professionally.
It was definitely a light-bulb moment and I'm glad I listened to that gut feeling. As I graduated from Baruch College in May of 2017, I noticed a job opening for Monte Nido and Affiliates residential eating disorder facility in Westchester County and knew this was it - this is what I needed to do to start this next step in my career.
I started working there a few months after graduation and I knew being a mental health therapist for individuals struggling with an eating disorder was for me. Through my journey with Monte Nido and Affiliates, I learned a lot.
I learned the integral parts of an eating disorder, the need for integration of healthy alternative coping tools, development of a strong sense of self, development of strong interpersonal relationships and a bucket list of life goals is important in eating disorder recovery. I also learned - you can fully recover from an eating disorder, despite what some treatment models may believe or have indicated in the past.
My struggle as an Eating Disorder Specialist
As someone who has not struggled with their relationship with food, body or movement, I had a lot to learn about eating disorders and the recovery process. I was very nervous at first to share with clients that I was not one of the many recovered staff members that we had at the facility. I worried that they wouldn’t trust me or would feel that I didn’t understand them.
It was through the help of my recovered colleagues that I was able to find the confidence in myself to share, not only that I had never struggled with an eating disorder, but to also share my experiences in hopes that my struggles would also help my clients through theirs. It was the encouragement from my colleagues to be myself (which is what I was asking of my clients) that allowed me to connect with clients and run alongside them in their journey towards recovery.
My work with my clients both in a residential treatment facility and in private practice has been rewarding both personally and professionally. I have met many amazing people along the way. I have met some of the brightest, creative, out-going and caring individuals both client and staff on this journey and I couldn't be more grateful.
I want to take a moment to thank all, clients and colleagues, both past and present for letting me in, letting me learn and letting me be myself. I want to thank Kate, Rachele and Jane (who you will all meet in this series) for not only being amazing humans but for taking the time to answer my questions and do this series with me.
I, thank you, the readers for taking the time to read this post (and this series) and for wanting to learn about eating disorders.
For anyone struggling, I hope this allows you to feel seen and heard, let you learn a little about me and brings you hope that you too can recover from your eating disorder. Please reach out to get that help that you are worthy of.
About the Author
Stephanie is available on weekdays, evenings & Saturdays in our Scarsdale office or via Telehealth for video counseling sessions.