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Jessica_Genet_Pic MonkeyAssociate Director of Clinical Recruitment and Resources Dr. Jessica Genet, PhD explores the importance of finding a passion; whether that includes hobbies, extracurricular activities, a major in college, or a career path. Career assessments and further exploration in therapy allow clients to understand their preferences, values and interests, and offers guidance toward following a true passion.

“Individuals working to break free from the tangle of eating disorders need to find their passions in life… By passions I mean something external that gives the individual enjoyment, positive structure, or a pathway to self-knowledge.”

– Ira M Sacker, M.D., Author of “Regaining Your Self”

At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we strive to help our patients explore their passions and live a more meaningful life. Unfortunately, the eating disorder is often so preoccupying and all-consuming that it interferes with the process of exploring interests and engaging in fun activities. Some of our clients struggle to find a job, a major in college, hobbies or extracurricular activities that bring them true enjoyment. Other clients have chosen paths and activities that “look good” externally (and bring them praise from family and friends) but are internally unrewarding. With these struggles in mind, all aspects of our treatment at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, from therapy sessions and yoga classes to outings in the community, aim to help our patients find their passions, explore new activities, and find what brings them true happiness.

One particularly unique service we offer at Oliver-Pyatt Centers is the opportunity to complete a career assessment. Career assessments are designed to help individuals understand their preferences, values and interests, and offers guidance towards selecting majors in school, jobs, career paths, and hobbies that are motivating and rewarding. Are you a person who tends to make decisions based on personal values or are you someone who tends to make decisions based on logic? Are you a person who prefers working on teams or prefers accomplishing tasks independently? Are you excited about activities that require self-expression and creativity? Are you interested in the helping professions such as teaching? These are just some of the questions a career assessment will explore. It is important to understand that a career assessment is not a magic eight ball and will not spit out an answer like “you must become a teacher.” Instead, it offers a springboard for discussion on these topics, leaving plenty of space for personal reflection and choice. Career assessments offer more than guidance on career or job choices; many of our clients describe the experience as an opportunity for self-discovery. We are delighted to provide this service to our clients.

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

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Oliver-Pyatt Centers Clinical Project Manager Wendy Shoaf, MS, LMHC, LPC will present at OPC’s First Wednesdays Breakfast Series for Clinical Profressionals on September 7th. With over seven years of experience working with eating disorders, as well as disordered eating patterns, Ms. Shoaf will share her expertise on “Dining Hall Decisions: Helping your client know when they’re ready to go back to college”.

College and young adulthood present unique challenges in the eating disorder recovery process. Ms. Shoaf will identify and examine these challenges– from maladaptive behaviors, to mealtimes and managing food, to social and academic stressors.  She was also discuss the barriers to rematriculating following treatment and ways to address resistance from families and other key people in students’ lives.

Through this presentation, participants will be able to identify three challenges unique to college students who are in recovery for an eating disorder. Additionally, participants will be able to identify three barriers to returning to college and strategies to address them, as well as, identify resistance that presents within familial and other relationships and how to address them whether the student is living at home or away.

Breakfast begins at 9 am and the presentation will be from 9:30-10:30. 1 CE hour will be offered for: PhD, PsyD, LMFT, LMHC, LCSW, LPCC, and RD. If you would like to join OPC’s First Wednesdays on September 7th, please RSVP to Florida Outreach Manager Callie Chavoustie at callie@www.oliverpyattcenters.com or RSVP here by September 5th.

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

Joel-Jahraus-MDMedical Director of Oliver-Pyatt Centers Joel Jahraus, MD, FAED, CEDS specializes in medical management of patients with eating disorders. He has been a board certified physician for over 30 years and is a recognized expert on diabetes and the medical complications of eating disorders. Dr. Jahraus shares his experience of treating patients with comorbid disorders. He explains how he uses a systematic approach in order to establish a strong rapport with the patient and then is able to assess and treat the complex case.

Over many years of treating medical complications of eating disorders I have watched an interesting trend of patients claiming to have more and more medical comorbid disorders. In fact it is not uncommon for me to see someone who says they struggle with food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose deficiency and gluten enteropathy. This creates a complexity that is challenging to say the least. It requires a well-coordinated effort between medical and mental health clinicians to truly evaluate the validity of the medical illness claims and their integration with anxiety, depression and other comorbid mental health disorders as well as the eating disorder itself.

Fortunately relatively definitive and objective guidelines are available to assess each of the comorbid illnesses. Yet too often patients come in either self-diagnosed or without a complete work up and have fully come to believe that they indeed have a food allergy or IBS. In addition there are often family issues related to medical disorders where the individual is told to even expect that they will have these disorders due to family history of the same. Given the typical challenges of refeeding with gastrointestinal symptoms and heightened anxiety this can easily throw the patient’s recovery off course. I have found that there are several caveats that will set the stage for a better-informed patient and family that often mitigates some of the challenges of refeeding. Education is power and food is medicine so I begin with that premise. Then I use a systematic approach to build trust with the patient as we progress through a workup:

1. I validate the patient’s concerns and reassure them that I will be sure to evaluate their physical concerns and help them understand physical versus emotional symptoms and how these symptoms are related to each other. I provide examples of emotional symptoms causing physical illness like stress and anxiety causing high blood pressure or stomach ulcers. I want them to understand that I am not dismissing their symptoms as “just emotional” but rather that finding their true cause will allow us to help them feel better whatever the cause.
2. I review the work up (or lack of one) regarding each condition and then outline what is needed to be complete and have an accurate diagnosis. I also tell them that even if they do have a physiologic medical illness it may well improve with achieving a healthy body weight and maintaining healthy nutrition and healthy eating habits while eliminating eating disorder symptoms.
3. I order appropriate consultations and testing as indicated and review the results with the individual outlining both medical and psychological treatments that will help them including the use of stress relaxation and medical and psychiatric medications whether prescription or over-the-counter meds including nutriceuticals and complimentary therapies.
4. I assure the individual that we will proceed through treatment with regularly scheduled appointments for follow up so they don’t need to worry that they are simply being dismissed.

With this approach I have had significant success in evaluating and treating these increasingly complex cases. We all know how rewarding it can be to have an individual so restricted by the complex medical and psychiatric illnesses associated with eating disorders to suddenly find new life and relief from the burdens of physical and emotional pain and worry!

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt CentersClementine adolescent treatment programs and Monte Nido, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Meet Our Team: Amy Sosa

Posted on June 16, 2016 by StayConnected

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1. What is your name and what are your credentials? What is your current role? My name is Dr. Amy Sosa and I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. I am the Clinical Director of Clementine Adolescent Treatment Program.

2. Please give us a brief description of your background? Dr. Sosa received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology where she also received her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology.  She obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  Throughout her career, Dr. Sosa received comprehensive training in play, couples, family, individual, and group therapy.  Currently, Dr. Sosa specializes in providing empirically-validated treatment to adolescent girls diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and/or exercise addiction.  She has a passion for treating issues impacting girls and women with a focus on enhancing body image.  Moreover, she has experience treating complex trauma internationally and completed her dissertation research on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Secondary Traumatic Stress within Rwandese healthcare providers.  Additionally, she is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  Further, she is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association (APA) and Division 52 (International Psychology Division) of the American Psychological Association.  Lastly, she is co-chair of the Education Committee for the Miami Chapter of the International Association for Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP).

3. What does a typical day look like for you at Clementine? There is no typical day at Clementine and that’s what I love about my job.  Throughout the day, Clementine girls engage in school, individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and meal support.  Our group therapy program is comprehensive and is rooted in empirically-validated treatment models.  For example, we offer a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Group, a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Group, a Body Image Group, and a Family and Relationships Group, among others.  We also offer several movement groups in order to facilitate a healthy relationship with oneself and one’s body that is void of compensatory exercise (such as yoga and Thai Chi).

4. In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Clementine. At Clementine, we believe in empowering girls to live a wholehearted life.  We provide intensive individual, family, and group therapy in order to improve self-worth and enhance girls’ relationships with themselves/others.  Adolescence is a delicate developmental period where girls are often concerned about appearance and acceptance.  At Clementine, we provide girls skills to understand that their identities are multilayered and that their worth is tied to various aspects, including academic, familial, sports, play, and resilience, among others.  Oftentimes, our girls are perfectionistic and we strive to give them permission to fail and to learn from their failures.  This allows them to develop appropriate coping skills to manage life stressors without engaging in eating disorder or other maladaptive behaviors.  We also believe in addressing underlying factors driving eating disorder behaviors in order to fully understand and practice authentic living.

5. How does your team work together? How do your roles overlap and differ? At Clementine, the treatment team is a family which allows us to foster a family setting for our girls.  Our team consists of Internal Medicine Physicians, Psychiatrists, Therapists, Nutritionists, Nurses, and Recovery Coaches.  We have lunch together daily and have consultations throughout the week to discuss client care.  We also believe in the importance of nurturing relationships outside of work and engage in teambuilding activities deepen relationships with one another.

6. What is your favorite thing about Clementine? My favorite aspect of Clementine is patient care.  Our girls are incredibly ambitious, curious, and resilient, and I learn so much from the in-depth work they put forth daily in order to achieve recovery.

7. What are three facts about you that people do not know? I am obsessed with animals: I have one dog, two cats, and I got married on my horse. I love the outdoors: My connection to nature provides me with a sense of groundedness in order to do the work that I do. I spent a year in Swaziland, Southern Africa, which solidified my passion for psychology.

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt CentersClementine adolescent treatment programs and Monte Nido, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

mclain-newDr. Melissa McLain speaks on the impact social media and technology now have on our every day lives and the choices and discussions you can have with yourself, your loved ones, or your clients to ensure these outlets are being utilized for positive benefits as opposed to negative results. 

For some, technology is the first thing they check when they wake up, and the last thing they do before bed. Over the last few years, we have become a society attached to our devices. Recent data on this topic shows that some people are checking their technology, most notably their social media pages, more than 10 times a day while some are spending hours in this pursuit.

When it comes to social media, we are all still trying to keep up, including the field of eating disorders. Unfortunately, some research is showing that use of social media is increasingly correlated with depressive symptoms as a result of the inherent issues of acceptance, competition, and attention that present themselves in this domain (Chicago Tribune, 2013). Women working on recovery from body and food issues frequently mention comparing themselves to others, feeling inferior and having increased body image concerns as a result of their social media usage.

However, at Oliver-Pyatt Centers we are invested in helping our women develop a healthy and mindful relationship with their technology, just as they are working on a relationship with food and their bodies. When spending time on social media, comparing to others can result in feelings of inferiority and dissatisfaction, while spending time connecting with others can result in new and improved relationships and increased positive feelings. Monet Eliastam’s quote below captures this idea beautifully.

Imagine if social media became a place where we shared our dreams instead of hiding our faults, where we collaborated in conversation instead of trolling anonymously, where we felt included instead of excluded. We need to reinvent the online community to cultivate a safer, more diverse, more welcoming environment where we value people for generating thoughts, not likes… We have an incredible tool in our hands, we need to use it to change the world.

So, let’s embrace the world of technology and the interfaces that social provides us. The fact that you are reading this blog right now suggests you are looking for positive ways to spend your time and energy online. Thanks for doing so and share your positive experiences both on and offline with those you love.

JoinDr. Melissa McLain and Oliver-Pyatt Centers at the upcoming symposium, ‘Emerging Clinical Challenges in the Treatment of Children and Adolescents’, hosted by the University Medical Center of Princeton University and the Princeton Healthcare System. Dr. McLain, along with a host of other esteemed and knowledgeable speakers, will be presenting on “The Power of Connection: Social Media and its Impact on Neurobiology in the Adolescent Brain.” Register here by October 15th. 

Back to School

Posted on September 03, 2015 by StayConnected

At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we know the start of a school year includes many varied emotions and feelings. Our Clementine adolescent eating disorder treatment program team members have compiled a list of some of their favorite quotes, tips, and advice on maintaining recovery and thriving throughout the school year. We wish all of you returning to school a happy and healthy year!

p_clementine02School is important, but not more than your inner peace and fulfillment. Choose a schedule that allows you to create balance.  Just because you are capable of something, does not mean it is in your best interest to do it. Allow your heart to be a part of the process when planning your daily schedule and routine.” 

Founder and Executive Director Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD, FAED, CED

Ten quotes to start the year:

The way we see the problem is the problem.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Live out of your imagination, not your history.

We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.

There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.

Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It is the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.

– provided by Clinical-Academic Liasion Daria Valle, EdS, LMFT

 

Beginnings are scary! Remember that things are only new for a day. Trust yourself and know that you will adjust and find your way through it.” 

Clinical Director, Clementine Pinecrest Bertha Tavarez, PsyD

Remember it is OK to be you. Those that really care about you will love you for you and accept you for all of your uniqueness.” 

Clinical Recovery Coach Coral Seco, MS

Activity:

Make a Bio Poem: Things you want others to know about you

I like it when _______

It upsets me when _________

Anything you want to add that you want others to know about you.

Decorate it to illustrate the true you!

– provided by Clinical-Academic Liasion Daria Valle, EdS, LMFT

Take it one day at a time.” 

Recovery Coach Manager Rebecca Garcia

It is essential to fuel your brain and body for a new school year! Make sure to wake up with enough time to have breakfast before school. Prepare your lunch the night before. Pack portable snacks to make snack time easier; try trail mix, chocolate covered pretzels, or peanut butter crackers.” 

Registered Dietitian Alyssa Mitola, MS, RD, LD/N

Advice:

Make long and short term goals.

Use a planner with a schedule and decorate it.

Create a Top 10 list of where to seek and find help when you need it. Have contact information included for easy access.

– provided by Clinical-Academic Liasion Daria Valle, EdS, LMHC

 

Stay hydrated during the day. Remember to take your vitamins and meds. But, most importantly, listen to your body; when you need to re-fuel, when you need a study break, when you need to close those books and re-charge. Honor your body, as well as your mind. It’s going to be a great school year!” 

Clementine SoMi Interim House Nurse Vanessa Hernandez, BSN, RN

Doing one thing at a time will get everything done.” 

Primary Therapist Jessica Aron, PsyD 

Advice:

Learning well is always more important than getting A’s.

When frustrated with homework or an assignment, leave it for a while, do something else, then go back to it.

Aim at being your best self and that will suffice. You can never be a better cat than a cat. If you are a butterfly, be the best butterfly you can be.

– provided by Family Therapist Bency Alphonse, MS

Consider joining a club or getting involved in extracurricular activities. It can be a nice way to spend time connecting with peers, meeting new friends, and getting involved in community service and your school.

Primary Therapist Jeanette Alonso, MSEd, LMHC

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers eating disorder treatment center and Clementine adolescent eating disorder treatment programming, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

The Importance of Food Values

Posted on June 25, 2015 by StayConnected

Clementine at OPC Nutritionist Alyssa Mitola, MS, RD, LD/N shares her personal experience of facilitating cooking group with our adolescent clients and the importance of understanding the values associated with food and nourishment.

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At Clementine adolescent treatment programming, we have girls from many different backgrounds, which is the perfect “recipe” for a cooking group. Every Tuesday evening, the girls and I gather in the kitchen and end up taking a culinary trip around the world. We have whipped up everything from empanadas to stuffed shells to arepas to Caribbean chicken curry – that is only the start. The best part is, many of these ideas have come directly from the clients themselves!

Cooking group is one of my favorite groups. During cooking group, our clients begin to develop the needed skills to feed themselves; skills that will last a lifetime and are critical for recovery. This group enables me to teach girls that food is so much more than just nutrients. Nutrition is only one of many food values, and these other values are often quickly overlooked by society. In the kitchen we discuss values such as culture, flavors, tastes, budgeting and so much more.

What are some of your own personal food values?

Have you ever stopped to consider how these values influence your meal choices?

As the Registered Dietitian on staff, I love being around the girls in the kitchen. While we know it is common for some individuals with eating disorders to love cooking or baking, typically she enjoys cooking food for others and not herself; others may be afraid to step foot in the kitchen. However, it has been a pleasant surprise to all of our staff to see just how receptive our adolescent clients have been to cooking. Many of these girls have never cooked before, but each week, without fail, they are banging down my door to see what we are making. After the meal is prepared, we all sit down to eat together. It is a powerful moment as we gather to share what we have all worked together to create.

Participation in cooking group has served as a turning point for numerous girls on their journey of recovery. We have had a few girls struggle at the beginning of treatment, who light up the night we cook a meal from their culture or use a family recipe. These girls become very excited to share family traditions and cultural recipes with the rest of the milieu; and for that night, the meal becomes just a little bit easier. It is truly inspiring to work alongside our clients as they cook dinner. However, what I find most meaningful is that cooking group becomes the catalyst for not only greater autonomy with food, but a profoundly corrective experience with the power to repair our client’s relationship with food.

P.S. We hope to create a Clementine cookbook very soon. Stay tuned!

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly expanding Clementine adolescent treatment programming, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

We are excited to provide a Q&A featured post with a focus on a parent’s view of treatment, recovery, and the experience of eating disorders within the family unit. As we prepare to expand our Clementine programming for girls between the ages of 13 and 17, Regional Outreach Manager of Florida Terina Lopez was honored to speak with a mother who shared her own first-hand experience of an eating disorder within her family and who works tirelessly to promote eating disorder knowledge, awareness, and recovery through her own advocacy work. 

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What behaviors should families be aware of within the home and at meals? What are the warning signs your loved one has an eating disorder?

CM: The big thing is a change in behavior and eating habits. It [eating disorders] can change its face for different people so look for any type of drastic change in behavior or eating habits. Be aware of an an overall increased focus on food that was not present before; an obsession with cooking and baking, but no participation in eating the item, watching cooking shows, completing research on recipes and creating elaborate meals, but not actually eating the meals themselves, etc. Some loved ones may begin eating in a ritualistic manner or finding excuses not to eat food. Some loved ones may begin eliminating food groups, begin dieting, or become a vegetarian or vegan for no particular reason. A health focus can lead to restriction of different food groups, quality or quantity of food groups, that leads to more and more restriction; and excessive water loading before or during meals.

Look not only for changes in eating behaviors, but also changes in overall behaviors and social behaviors; for example, loved ones may start withdrawing from friends and family, won’t eat in public, don’t want to attend events that will involve food, and will eventually not want to attend public events at all.

Additional warning signs may include constant body comparison and body image issues, obsession with weight, size, shape, constant weighing, and isolation, excessive and ritualistic exercise, rigid beliefs and actions around food, exercise, body image, and behaviors, decompensation of mental functioning, dramatic and quick mood swings, inability to retain information, emotional unbalance, or physical symptoms such as lanugo, extremities turning blue, etc.

Keep in mind that significant weight loss may not occur for all individuals struggling with disordered eating; while weight may remain constant, focus on changes in the behaviors of your loved ones.

What was helpful in getting your loved one to commit to treatment?

CM: Parents have to call it as they see it and have to be an ally for their loved one. Many times parents are in denial that something is wrong. You have to send a clear and steady message that your loved one is decompensating while providing specific examples, work together with your loved ones’ outpatient team, and express your support with a statement such as, “I am not going to stand by while these things are happening.” Parents need to address the situation calmly and rationally, explain the behaviors you are witnessing and why you feel he or she needs to attend treatment.

Be aware that as a parent, you have a different view of your loved one than her outpatient team. There are times the loved one may be able to put on a “healthy face” for the outpatient team or while at home and act as if they are doing well. At times, it may require the parents of the loved one to care for the individual and spearhead the path to treatment.

How does a parent know their loved one needs to go to treatment?

CM: When things aren’t getting better, even in outpatient treatment. When your loved ones’ entire life is falling apart. When you are in a living hell at home. When there is decompensation in all areas. Everything is screaming that your loved one needs residential or inpatient treatment and it is obvious she needs much more support. Remember it [the eating disorder] is not just a phase and it will not go away without proper treatment.

Parents may become very frustrated with their loved one. Their loved one may say they do not need help or support. Parents have to remember that eating disorders are not a choice and that their child is not an eating disorder. It is important to remain your child’s ally and to avoid becoming confrontational. Do not get on the roller coaster with the child. Be supportive, but also separate the disorder from your child – externalize the illness.

There are times when your loved one is not in the position to say yes to treatment and you will have to eliminate all other options. You have to say, “You need help, this is serious. You have two options: going to treatment or going to the hospital.” Parents cannot negotiate with treatment, but should include the child in the decision (i.e. provide specific examples of the behaviors and decompensation witnessed and why you feel your loved one should enter treatment). Paint the picture very calmly, express love and concern for your loved one’s wellbeing, and then provide one combined option of treatment and support. Do not let it become a battle because then you are also battling with the eating disorder.

What was successful in treatment (i.e. family therapy, phone calls from clinical team, family Friday)?

CM: Therapy with the entire family is critical. Do not forget about the siblings and how they are affected during this process.

The more learning curves in the road during treatment the better (i.e. someone saying something triggering at a dinner outing, etc.) Your loved one will learn to handle experiences that are going wrong instead of everything being perfect. You want treatment to go smoothly, but you want your loved one to be able to navigate difficulties whether they be social, food, etc.

What advice would you give parents whose loved one is in treatment?

CM: School often takes priority over all else. You need to firmly establish that health is the number one priority and that school and anything else comes second to health. You cannot negotiate because of these other “important” life events. If you do, you are sending the message this is not a top priority and that getting help for your eating disorder is not urgent. Children need to understand this is urgent, this is serious, and that nothing else is more important.

Do not negotiate with the eating disorder. The minute you start negotiating with the eating disorder all bets are off.

Be clear, be firm, and do not negotiate on any level (i.e. becoming vegan, staying at school to finish up before treatment, coming back to school for trip or play, etc.) Do not engage in these conversations – the eating disorder will see the crack in the window and will keep picking at it.

What support do parents need or do you suggest they get while their child is in treatment?

CM: If you have questions or concerns while your loved one is in treatment, speak directly to the treatment team. Do not cast doubt on the treatment team or the treatment; your loved one could take this as an opportunity to disengage, she may begin feeling she is not sick enough to require treatment, or the eating disorder may find a way to sneak back in.

Make sure you are also taking care of yourself. You may be physically and mentally exhausted so make sure you are receiving support; whether that is through self-help books, psychotherapy, education, and understanding what it will look like when your loved one leaves treatment. Know the path to recovery will not be a straight shot and there are going to be bumps in the road.

Siblings, couples, and individual therapy are all helpful. The eating disorder can infiltrate and effect the entire family. Join an advocacy group (listed below) to find support and affect change. Find support in any way you can so you do not become isolated. Find individuals and community support from people who understand where you are coming from.

Additional Recommended Reading and Support Groups

Mothers Against Eating Disorders (advocacy group)
Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder (book)
Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness (advocacy group)

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers or our newly expanding Clementine programming, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our website, subscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Clinical Director of Clementine Adolescent Treatment Program at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, Dr. Bertha Tavarez, PsyD shares a very important post on clinician self-care and provides examples of how the team members of Clementine integrate these self care practices into daily work life. 

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How does the opera singer take care of the voice? The baseball pitcher, the arm? The woodcutter, the axe? The ballerina, the legs and feet? The counselor, therapist, teacher, or heath professional, the self?

-Excerpt from ‘The Resilient Practitioner: Burnout Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for Counselors, Therapists, Teachers, and Health Professionals 2nd Ed.’ Thomas M. Skovhoh & Michelle Trotter –Mathison

“Experiencing burnout? Who, me? Never!” If you are lucky enough to make it your life’s work to care for others, chances are, you have experienced the burning hot coals of burnout. Burnout is defined as ‘a state of chronic stress that may lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, professional detachment, and perceived lack of effectiveness and accomplishment.’ Burnout can be experienced on a continuum, and, if left unchecked, can negatively impact even the strongest treatment providers.

In a qualitative analysis of job burnout, eating disorder treatment providers were found to be at high risk of burnout due to characteristics of pathology, patient characteristics, and work-related factors (Warren, C. et al., 2012). Work-related factors that contribute to burn out include: lack of structure in the organization, poor support from team members, and difficulty managing large caseloads with multiple professional responsibilities. Although we cannot control the nature of the diagnosis or patient characteristics, we can empower ourselves to create a paradigm shift in how we manage work-related factors.

As the Clinical Director of Clementine Adolescent Treatment Program at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, I wanted to combat the effects of burnout in our staff by crafting team building opportunities. I developed a plan to engage the staff in daily exercises that would promote practitioner resiliency. I hope these daily exercises act as a fun and dynamic shift in how we relate to one another as well as the clients via a deliberate parallel process.

Gratitude Jars
I presented staff members with individual gratitude jars and a bag of glass pebbles. I encouraged staff members to place a pebble in the jar every time they experienced gratitude for their work. This exercise really encouraged us to find gratitude in the little moments. For most of us it opened our eyes to attend to moments of gratitude. At the end of the week, we counted and reviewed our pebbles (75 total! Woo hoo!) We realized that although we were unable to recall every moment, we had the awareness that they occurred.

Coloring Self-Care
The Clementine Staff was given “self-care homework” and asked to spend some time coloring using Valentina Harper’s Creative Coloring Inspirations book after a long work day. The next day, we discussed what the experience was like and how it influenced our ability to find closure in the work day and engage in a soothing activity at home. The response from staff was positive and uplifting! For those who struggled to complete the task, it provided greater awareness about the importance of self-care. Others reported gaining insight regarding a tendency toward perfectionism during the coloring process, and how this may have hindered self-care. A binder of blank pages was placed in the staff office and made available for continued use. These coloring pages were given to clients who shared similar experiences to use as a primary method of coping during difficult times in treatment.

Adult Show-and-Tell
Staff members participated in “adult show-and-tell” during lunch. They were encouraged to bring in a prized possession that proved meaningful in their lives. The purpose of this exercise was to encourage the staff to share aspects of themselves with greater meaning and value and build relationships with one another outside of the typical work-related dialogue. Staff members brought in emotional treasures from their past, and we took turns presenting them and sharing stories. Through laughter and tears, we found a place of greater connection. One of our staff members described this moment perfectly when she said, “I will never forget this work day.”

Mindfulness Bubbles
On Friday, staff members were given bubbles to use in order to encourage a playful mindfulness moment at the end of the week. This simple exercise proved to be a catalyst for joy for all of Clementine. Recovery coaches, therapists, and clients were united in play!

Closing Reflection
As I think back at these activities, I can say they greatly benefited us individually and collectively. The most rewarding aspect was that, as we took better care of ourselves, we were able to spread this loving energy to those we serve.

‘In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.’ – Dalai Lama

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Warren, Cortney S.; Schafer, Kerri J.; Crowley, Mary Ellen; Olivardia, Roberto; Eating Disorders, 2012 May-Jun; 20 (3): 175-95.

Associate Director of Clinical Recruitment and Resources Dr. Jessica Genet, PhD explores the importance of finding a passion; whether that includes hobbies, extracurricular activities, a major in college, or a career path. Career assessments and further exploration in therapy allow clients to understand their preferences, values and interests, and offers guidance toward following a true passion.  

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“Individuals working to break free from the tangle of eating disorders need to find their passions in life… By passions I mean something external that gives the individual enjoyment, positive structure, or a pathway to self-knowledge.”
– Ira M Sacker, M.D., Author of “Regaining Your Self”

At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we strive to help our patients explore their passions and live a more meaningful life. Unfortunately, the eating disorder is often so preoccupying and all-consuming that it interferes with the process of exploring interests and engaging in fun activities. Some of our clients struggle to find a job, a major in college, hobbies or extracurricular activities that bring them true enjoyment. Other clients have chosen paths and activities that “look good” externally (and bring them praise from family and friends) but are internally unrewarding. With these struggles in mind, all aspects of our treatment at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, from therapy sessions and yoga classes to outings in the community, aim to help our patients find their passions, explore new activities, and find what brings them true happiness.

One particularly unique service we offer at Oliver-Pyatt Centers is the opportunity to complete a career assessment. Career assessments are designed to help individuals understand their preferences, values and interests, and offers guidance towards selecting majors in school, jobs, career paths, and hobbies that are motivating and rewarding. Are you a person who tends to make decisions based on personal values or are you someone who tends to make decisions based on logic? Are you a person who prefers working on teams or prefers accomplishing tasks independently? Are you excited about activities that require self-expression and creativity? Are you interested in the helping professions such as teaching? These are just some of the questions a career assessment will explore. It is important to understand that a career assessment is not a magic eight ball and will not spit out an answer like “you must become a teacher.” Instead, it offers a springboard for discussion on these topics, leaving plenty of space for personal reflection and choice. Career assessments offer more than guidance on career or job choices; many of our clients describe the experience as an opportunity for self-discovery. We are delighted to provide this service to our clients.

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

An Introduction to Clementine

Posted on October 09, 2014 by StayConnected

We are pleased to acquaint you with Clementine, the new residential program at OPC exclusively for adolescent girls. Director of Adolescent Services Dr. Amy Boyers provides a brief introduction to the program and insight into her experience working with adolescents.

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Clementine, Oliver-Pyatt Centers new program for adolescent girls age 13-17, offers a model of treatment that blends the personalized and medically sophisticated care for which we are known, with the latest research and strategies for adolescents suffering from eating disorders. Located in a lush, private residential area, this highly specialized medical, psychiatric, nutritional, and clinical approach integrates comprehensive academic and family support within an intimate home setting. We work together to heal the entire family – instilling hope and trust. 

Tell us a little bit about Clementine…

The adolescent program at OPC is designed to be sensitive to the developmental needs of this younger population. With this in mind, our groups and activities are specifically designed to be age-appropriate and will not include adult patients. In addition, parents are not only invited, but expected to participate in their child’s recovery by attending weekly family therapy sessions, coming to OPC for our weekly parent education program, participating in staff supported family meals, and attending our weekly Multi-Family Group. We understand parents are a part of the treatment team and we will work side-by-side with parents to help them better assist their child in her recovery. It is our hope that families and their loved ones with an eating disorder will have a medically and clinically based, and holistic experience where all feel understood, supported, and empowered by the treatment team.

Tell us about your experience working with adolescents…

I have been working with adolescents with eating disorders since my residency at Renfrew in 2000. Since then, I continued to see them in my practice and have seen them through every stage of recovery. I have experience working with families to address and treat eating disorders at home and within a treatment center. I have vast experience working with parents to help them understand how to manage the eating disorder and support them through this difficult process. In all of these years, I also have acquired a firm understanding of the educational, athletic, and medical issues that can be involved in treating a young person with an eating disorder. As a result, I have developed a network of professionals in the community with whom I collaborate in order to facilitate, augment, or support an individual or her family during this process. For more about Dr. Amy Boyers read her full “Meet Our Team” post here

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Dr. Bertha Tavarez, PsyD shares her experience and expertise working with resistant adolescent patients. Dr. Tavarez has been working as a highly skilled primary therapist and will be stepping in to the position of Clinical Director of Clementine, Oliver-Pyatt Centers new residential program exclusively for adolescent girls this fall.  

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“The sun and the wind were having a dispute as to who was more powerful. They saw a man walking along and they had a bet as to which of them would get him to remove his coat. The wind started first and blew up a huge gale, the coat flapped but the man only fastened the buttons and tightened up his belt. The sun tried next and shone brightly making the man sweat. He took off his coat.” – Anonymous

The metaphor of the sun and the wind is an accurate depiction of the challenges that many clinicians face while working with adolescent patients. Although we may have access to the gravity of our patient’s clinical needs, simply communicating our concerns and providing much needed skills can be met with resistance. Our patients remain “locked in” to their emotional experience while simultaneously feeling “locked out” of the insight and motivation needed to increase their receptivity to much needed skills development. The adolescent, preoccupied with exerting and maintaining control and autonomy, may hold tightly to their coat, rendering our intentions to provide care futile.

So how do we, like the sun, create shifts in awareness and influence change?

The power of reflection

It may be tempting to adopt the roll of cheerleader (“You can do this!”) or problem solver (“Why don’t you try this?”) When an adolescent patient presents with resistant talk (“I don’t want to be here”) or talk that inhibits change (“I got straight A’s with ED, what’s the problem?”) Often the simplest and most effective way of building rapport and loosening the grasp of resistance is to simply reflect the patient’s message in your own words. Often, patients are primed for persuasion and direction. Reflection statements can contribute to feelings of validation and interpersonal trust.

Resistance as an interpersonal process / Resistance as developmentally appropriate

It is important to keep in mind that resistance is both developmentally appropriate for adolescent patients and an interpersonal process that occurs within the therapeutic alliance. Although, we may expect a certain degree of resistance on a developmental level, we can provide corrective experiences around resistance that still promote autonomy. A clinician may benefit from awareness about the resistance that is brewing in a session, abstain from engaging in a power struggle, and promote an alliance with the patients’s desire for autonomy.

Highlight intrinsic control

An effective technique that facilitates a shift from resistance talk to change talk is the clinician’s emphasis on the patient’s access to her personal control. A clinician may reflect the pros and cons experienced by the patient:

Patient: “I got straight A’s with ED, what’s the problem? Gosh! That was so hard!”

Therapist: “It sounds like you did well in school this year, but ED made it more difficult.”

A clinician may also reflect a patient’s choice within the constraints of the treatment environment while having the knowledge of the consequences. For example, the patient may be informed of her choice to select what day an exposure is initiated or asked to reflect on her choice to not participate in a group while being aware of consequence of losing a daily privilege as a result.

Shifting focus  

If resistant talk persists, the clinician can shift the focus to another closely relevant therapeutic topic that may tie into the overall theme beneath the resistance. For example, if the patient states, “I don’t want to take medications and that’s final!” the clinician can say, “Ok, how about you tell me how you’re feeling about your overall health today?”

Working with patients experiencing resistance and treatment ambivalence can be challenging. However, there are great opportunities at this treatment phase that can strengthen the therapeutic alliance and build the ground work necessary for lasting change. Motivational interviewing and person-centered techniques are an integral component of the clinical work at Clementine, Oliver-Pyatt Center’s new residential program exclusively for adolescent girls.

For more information about Clementine, please contact Oliver-Pyatt Centers at 866.511.HEAL (4325) and subscribe to our blog, visit our website, or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Primary Therapist Bertha Tavarez, Psy.D. (below) shares a moving and inspirational story about an Oliver-Pyatt Center’s alumna truly experiencing the joys of college, gaining friends, and appreciating life. 

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This morning, as I was sipping my morning coffee, I heard the “BING!” of my email alert. I was prepared to open my email and scan the latest recovery coach update report. Instead, a familiar name appeared. It was an email from a past client with no subject line. The young woman wanted to share with me a very miraculous before and after story. She attached two very striking pictures taken exactly one year apart. She explained that the first picture was taken during her first week in college a year ago. She was so entrenched in her eating disorder that she had to leave school and enter treatment one week after setting up her dorm room. We met on her journey to recovery, and experienced many winding and rocky points along the way. She progressed valiantly through residential and PHP treatment, and eventually stepped down to an IOP program close to home. 

She shared that the second picture attached was taken recently. In this photo her face was beaming with joy as she embraced her new roommate. She shared she had attended her first ice cream social, because after all, it’s a great place to meet new friends! She said her walls are now decorated with artwork she created while at Oliver-Pyatt Centers and that she still has a recovery necklace I gave her hanging over her bed.

Her beautiful words of gratitude are such a reminder of my life’s purpose. I work with young women with eating disorders so they can have fun on their first day at college, enjoy ice cream socials, make new friends, and have the best before and after story. 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please subscribe to our blog, visit our website, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

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Manager of Aftercare Planning Katherine Swain McClayton, MPH provides her tips for the college age student returning home during the holiday breaks. This can be an enjoyable and challenging time, and we hope you find these tips helpful. Whether returning home, spending time with loved ones and friends, or remaining at school, it is always important to take care of oneself.

1. Add structure to your day, then add a little more. Print out a copy of a weekly schedule and plug in your classes, meals and snacks, study time, activities, down time, and see if there are any openings when you should plan something before it comes up. Do this at school AND at home during breaks.

2. Have a plan for your appointments when home on break. See if your providers will Skype or complete a phone session. Or, ask a clinician at home to schedule a few gap sessions. Allow all clinicians to communicate to provide the best care.

3. Carefully consider sharing that you were in treatment with a friend at home and at school. The culture and world we live in is challenging for eating disorder recovery – a seemingly harmless comment can be quite triggering. Having someone “in your corner” can be helpful and make one feel less isolated.

4. Join a mental health advocacy/awareness group. This could be eating-disorder specific or a broader based group. Helping people find mental health resources, on campus or otherwise, is a powerful way to use your recovery experience to help the lives of others and yourself.

5. Be mindful of weekends. Create a plan for times when too much downtime can be overwhelming. Call a friend to meet you for a snack, plan to go see a movie, etc.

6. Engage in family therapy. One foot in adulthood and one foot in childhood is the college experience for many. Find a way to explore changing dynamics and create avenues for healthy communication between you and your family at school and at home, so it does not seep into valued family time at breaks.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please join us for a presentation at the Integrative Life Center’s First Wednesday Breakfast Series on December 4 in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, please contact our Southeast Regional Outreach Manager, Colleen Stephens, at colleen@www.oliverpyattcenters.com or 704-431-2712.

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We are continuing to share our top tips for women entering or returning to the collegiate environment after treatment. We hope these tips will assist you in navigating this transition and embolden you to truly enjoy your college experience.

This set of tips comes from one of our Clinical Directors, Melissa McLain, PhD. Melissa has been a pivotal member of the OPC team since 2008 and has extensive experience in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and compulsive over-exercise. Dr. McLain is an active board member of the Miami-Dade NEDA committee and has presented nationally on eating disorders, body image, food rules, and self-care at conferences by the National Eating Disorder Association, the Binge Eating Disorder Association, and the International Association for Eating Disorder Professionals.

1. Embrace change. College is an exciting time in life and it is ripe with new opportunities. Be open and flexible to the changes that come with it even if it means trying something that you’ve never done before.

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Maintaining recovery in a collegiate environment can be a difficult road to navigate. At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we understand there may be challenges, and feel that preparing for these challenges is an essential step in continued recovery. In order to support you in this journey, we have compiled tips on maintaining recovery in a college environment from our clinicians, dieticians, and alumnae.

Our first set of tips comes from Mary Dye, MPH, RD, CDN, LD/N, Director of Nutrition Services. Previously, Mary worked in private practice with adolescents and adults struggling with eating disorders. Additionally, Mary held the position of primary dietician for New York University’s Student Health Center and was an integral member of the university’s eating disorder treatment team. We hope these tips will assist you, your loved one, or your clients in this journey and look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

1. Schedule your snacks into your day and pack accordingly. For example, if you only have fifteen minutes between classes and the snack you prefer is yogurt and granola, be sure to pack it in an insulated bag so your food stays fresh during the earlier class.When choosing your classes, try to consider dining hall hours so it is open during your meal times. If you plan to visit the gym, do so with a friend in order to stay accountable and help yourself stick to time boundaries.

2. Join campus support groups.

3. Do not isolate during meals. Try to plan meals with a friend who is a positive nourishment role model.

4. Keep a week’s worth of snacks in your dorm. Stocking up on too many snacks can feel overwhelming, so try to stick with a variety of four or five snack combinations.

5. Limit caffeinated beverages to no more than one serving per day. Remember the only true way to increase your energy is through nourishing your body with food and getting restful sleep at night.

6. Continue to challenge yourself with foods that you made peace with while in treatment. Keep in mind that legalizing food is not checking off the “I tried it” box; instead, it is letting it remain a part of your diet on a longer-term basis until you can consume it without judgement.

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and Clementine,a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please subscribe to our blog, visit our website, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

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