Article Inspiration

Join us in reading soulful articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.

Who is Your Recovery Hero? Project Heal

Let it Gleam Recovery Spark

Celebrate the People that Make Recovery Possible NEDA

More than Poses: Yoga’s Healing Wisdom for Eating Disorders Chime Yoga Therapy

New Research Finds Mindfulness Reduces Worry Psychology Today

Supporting vs. Enabling: Do’s and Don’ts for Families and Supporters of People in Eating Disorder Recovery Resources to Recover


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

The Trap of Settling for “Well Enough” in Eating Disorder Recovery

Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, RYT, is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders and body image. In recovery herself, Jennifer is extremely passionate about helping others reconnect with their bodies and be empowered in their lives. Jennifer works with clients in person and via Skype. She also teaches yoga at the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia, is a partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, and leads trauma-sensitive yoga classes. In this week’s post, Jennifer dives into the idea of “well enough” in relation to eating disorder recovery.

In my own healing journey from anorexia, I often experienced a troublesome conflict between wanting wellness and clinging to illness. I bargained and negotiated over and over with myself, searching for ways to be a little well and little ill or just “well enough.”

I measured all this wellness and illness as meticulously as I counted calories. But instead of numbers, I relied on physical signs to reassure myself that I was “OK,” that I hadn’t overdone it or wandered too far on the side of “well” or “healthy” (gasp!): Do I still have bags under my eyes? Are my cheeks sunken? Am I pale? Do my clothes fit the same way? Am I hungry when I go to bed? And on and on and on.

All of this checking and clinging was happening in tandem with trying to recover, to be alive in my life to the fullest. Based on sentiments that others in recovery have shared with me, I know this rift within is common. We become hyper attached to “looking the part” (in my case, “the anorexic”) and fiercely depend on physical signs to reflect, reassure, and validate that we are “well enough” to keep loved ones off our backs but ill enough to keep the eating disorder in play.

There’s no shame in this. After all, this is how we learned to live, how we understood and moved through life. We clung to the eating disorder like a security blanket because, at the end of the day, we craved security.

The very real problem is, as you know, that messing with our physical bodies to the extent that eating disorders do is harmful, dangerous, and deadly. It also sabotages our emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we can’t be hollow physically without annihilating our spirits.

Even now, more than 2 decades later on my healing path, this rift within shows up every now and again in subtle ways. I combat the urge to “look the part” by remembering that the ultimate conflict of living from a “well enough” perspective limits my potential on all fronts of my life—family, professional, social, spiritual, personal. Only going as far as “well enough” in my recovery jeopardizes and constrains my potential to have the most basic of human desires: happiness.

“Well enough” thinking and living is a messy business, because we will always err on the side of more sick than well, which inevitably leads to bleak dead ends time and time again. I know what my dead end looks like, and it’s the complete opposite of happiness!

Every cell in my body knows how difficult it is to give your all to recovery, to let go fully and honestly of the eating disorder, so trust me, I am with you and deeply understand the challenges you face each day. If you are clinging to physical signs to assure yourself that you are “safe” or have designed routines in your day that support you only being “well enough,” I invite you to grab a journal or take some time to reflect on these questions:

  • What physical signs do I cling to?
  • What am I protecting myself from by clinging to my body?
  • What’s the emotional and mental toll I experience because of it?
  • How am I being held back in my life by living like this?
  • What’s one thing I can do differently starting today to cultivate a sense of thriving instead of surviving?

These are tough questions, but I believe (based on my personal experience) that the more you practice being painfully honest with yourself, the less you will settle for just being “well enough.” From this new awareness of the ways that you habitually cling and limit yourself, you can cultivate the power and inner strength to surpass “well enough.”

I encourage you to reach out for support and call on those cheerleaders in your life who believe you deserve more than “well enough,” who believe you deserve the stars. Because you do. You truly do.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.




My Soulful Journey: Jondra Pennington

Monte Nido Rain Rock Primary Therapist Jondra Pennington, LPC, MFT tells of her soulful journey to joining the Rain Rock team. In her writing, Jondra gives us an inside look into her days at Rain Rock and how she works passionately with her teammates to support clients on the path to full recovery.

What is your name and what are your credentials?

My name is Jondra Pennington. I have a Master’s degree from San Jose State University, and am licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon and a Marriage & Family Therapist in California.

Please give us a brief description of your background and what led you to Monte Nido.

I got my MFT license in 2000 and immediately went into private practice where I worked with a variety of clients, and as the years progressed I found that I was seeing more clients with eating disorders. Being recovered from an eating disorder myself, I found working with ED clients a natural fit for me. It was easy for me to understand and empathize with the underlying issues…primarily, that it’s not about the food. However, I needed more training in addition to the consultation and supervision I was receiving. A Carolyn Costin workshop at a professional conference was where I started. Her philosophy and approach to the treatment of eating disorders resonated with me. It matched the way I worked with my clients, and so, I began learning more about Monte Nido and its treatment model and its philosophy. It took a while for me to get here. I continued in private practice for a few more years, worked at a ED treatment center in Arizona, and then returned to private practice until this past year. As part of a major life change, I decided to close my practice in California and make the move to the Pacific Northwest. I applied at many places, but Rain Rock was always where I wanted to be. I moved to Eugene in April of last year and feel like I am home.

What does a typical day look like for you at Monte Nido?

When I come into work, I hit the ground running and that continues until I leave at the end of my shift. Typically, I begin with finding out what’s been happening with the clients by reading the Communications Log and talking with other members of the team. The day is filled with spending time with clients in the milieu, eating snacks and meals with them, connecting with family members and outpatient providers, doing therapy sessions, running a few groups, and, of course, that ever-present paperwork. The tasks are the same as I had to perform in private practice, but the difference is the pace. Things move much faster in residential treatment and it is absolutely necessary to be flexible. It’s not uncommon to move everything around and change direction at the last minute to accommodate a crisis or to cover a team member who can’t make it in that day.

In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Monte Nido.

There are two elements in Monte Nido’s philosophy that speak strongly to me. The first is the belief that one can be recovered from an eating disorder. The hope that this instills in clients and therapists make the work we do have incredible and significant life changing ability. The second is to meet the client wherever they are in their process. By doing so, we are treating the client with respect as an individual human being. We demonstrate that they have intrinsic value and are not an “anorexic”, for example, but a valuable individual who is struggling with an eating disorder. They are not simply a diagnosis without a face.

How does your team work together? How do your roles overlap and differ?

One of the great things about working as a team is that each of us can step in wherever we are needed. Each of us will do observations, sit for snacks and meals, check in with clients, etc. Our roles differ when it comes to specialization. This would include nurses, primary therapists, dieticians and doctors. That said, part of how we operate is to consistently get input, feedback, and updates from each of these particular team members. Without that communication, there is no working team.

Share a special moment/experience you had at Monte Nido.

My favorite moments at Rain Rock are the graduations and the sacredness that event holds. To see a client who came to us critically ill now stepping down as a healthy individual is so gratifying. Hearing the client individually tell peers and staff how they impacted them simply reinforces how important the relational piece of our program is. I don’t think there is a graduation I have attended where I did not experience a “this is why I do this work” moment.

What is unique about Monte Nido?

There is something very special about Monte Nido, and Rain Rock, in particular. Perhaps it is the beautiful, restorative setting or the feeling of true family that exists among the team. It could be the value placed on relationships with and between the clients or the valuing of client’s spiritual life and soul self. Whatever it is, it creates a space where clients can heal, and, as a therapist, I feel valued.

Share three facts about yourself.

  1. I am originally from the East Coast. Born in Philadelphia and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
  2. Went to college for the first time at the age of 30. Emerged 10 years later with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology.
  3. My favorite type of vacation is cruising. And so far, my favorite cruise that I’ve done was a two week cruise to Hawaii from Los Angeles. I had no idea that being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean could be so humbling.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

“You’re Too Sensitive” and Other Lies Your Eating Disorder Tells You


Dr. Linda Shanti, PsyD is an eating disorder expert with almost two decades of experience working in the field. As a recovered professional, she understands what her clients are facing on a day to day basis and is able to support them on their journey. In her writing, Dr. Shanti tells some of what her clients share with her in treatment due to the “Eating Disorder Voice”, and how she responds to these statements.

In an effort to Honor Sensitivity, and I’m going to jump right in with what I hear on a weekly basis in my therapy practice working with recovering women:

1.“You’re too sensitive.”

My adult clients often say, when entering eating disorder recovery, “I’m too sensitive,” as if it were a curse, or something that needs to be gotten rid of in the recovery process. Often they received this “too sensitive” message as children. Maybe when they cried, felt things deeply, were highly intuitive, or were sensitive to stimuli such as noise, textures, or smells, they were told: “Get over it,” “Don’t be a crybaby,” “If you feel scared or ashamed don’t show it” or (covertly)”Don’t talk about feelings. They are weak and we don’t have room for them here.” Your Eating Disorder (ED voice) is the one that judges (and then tries to hide, numb or cut off from) your sensitivities because they were not embraced and/or too painful to experience as a child.

I tell these adults that, even though it may be the opposite to what they want to hear,

“Recovery is an invitation to embrace what wisdom your sensitivity has to offer.”

Being sensitive means that your are strongly in touch with the part of you that knows, intuitively, what is right for you and what isn’t. It is the part of you that gets, on a gut level and often immediately, (even if it’s not what you want to know) whether someone is a good or bad fit for you in dating. It is the part of you that feels a palpable rise in anxiety before you engage in disordered eating behaviors, because it knows that you are about to act violently toward your sensitivity, trying to numb it rather than listen to it. It is the part of you that senses when a friend is feeling sad or mad, even when they try to mask it. It is the part of you that easily connects with nature or animals or young children being themselves. It is the part of you that knows when someone needs help or is not being treated fairly and feels a protective and empathic response toward them. People who struggle with disordered eating often are highly attuned to other’s feelings. However, they can be insensitive toward their own feelings, judging them as “bad” or “wrong.”

2. If I’m having a feeling, it is bad and I should make it go away.

Closely related to being sensitive is having feelings. The voice of the Eating Disorder (ED) does not like to have feelings. It really doesn’t matter which feeling – sadness, anger, shame, joy, happiness ED doesn’t like it. However, as Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, states:

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

We have to go toward the feelings we’ve left behind in childhood in order to reclaim those parts of ourselves and become full human beings again. We have to go toward, not away, from the feelings that scare us. I often give clients a feeling wheel to look at and identify which areas they are comfortable and which areas they are not. Some people like to hang out in “purple,” some in “red,” some in “yellow.” You may be very comfortable with sadness, but terrified of anger – or vice versa. Instead of judging this, recovery involves getting curious about it and learning to inhabit all the different colors. Because if you don’t feel, you can’t heal.

3. Needs are bad/weak/not okay unless you are taking care of someone else’s.

It’s so interesting how sensitive people can be fabulous caretakers but – how shall I say this – absolutely and completely suck at identifying, asking for support, and receiving care for their own needs. It’s called codependency in recovery lingo. The underlying unconscious assumption is: If I take care of you, you won’t be uncomfortable. And then I’ll be okay, because I’ll just match all of my needs to yours! But people have different needs.

And people who develop eating disorders usually haven’t been allowed to identify their own needs separate from others. There are many good reasons for this, often stemming from family of origin dynamics. Being a chameleon pretending you don’t have any of your own needs certainly has some benefits: you can blend in to many environments and “fit in,” You are not going to be singled out as “the scapegoat,” you can get along with many different kinds of people and work environments without being offensive.

However, at some point, a person recovering from an eating disorder will need to start risking the vulnerability of identifying their own needs. And this can be uncomfortable because, as a wise friend of mine says, “When you stop people pleasing, people aren’t pleased.” However, you WILL most likely, as you identify and start risking having some of your needs seen and met, feel less anxious, more at peace, and less concerned with the necessity of pleasing others.

4. If I just get the RIGHT food plan then I won’t have these uncomfortable feelings or needs anymore.

This ED belief can actually hang on for a long time. Because, even in recovery, it morphs and becomes clever, saying things like “I’m just trying to help you be healthy. You felt so much better when you were eating (fill in your own ED’s version of no sugar/whole grain/not wholegrain/gluten/fat-free/high-or-low protein obsession here).”

You are most likely to need a food plan in the beginning of your recovery. That is appropriate. If you have been skipping breakfast and lunch and bingeing on ice-cream for dinner, you are going to need to add the first two meals back into your day as well as get some vegetables, protein and carbs in there. If you have been avoiding “fear foods” such as cookies, bread, or salad dressing with fat, then you will need to practice having salad dressing (on the salad not the side), dessert, or scary snacks, in order to know you can tolerate the anxiety and be okay. Your food plan may be more structured or less structured during different parts of your recovery. It will change, just as you will. But finding the exact “right” food plan in order to not have uncomfortable feelings is a lie. Your food plan should support you having feelings rather than restricting or numbing them.

If you are sensitive, you are going to feel. Therefore you are going to feel the food you eat. If you have an allergy, are celiac, or have another medically related issue regarding food choices, then you need to tend to this. Otherwise, we need to look at the feelings not the foods. Because the feelings are what your ED is trying to avoid by obsessing on whatever food plan you are convinced will make you “right” or “better.”

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Cheri Huber, a zen writer and teacher:

“There is nothing wrong with you.”

Really. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing to fix around you being you. Be YOU and consider there is nothing wrong with that. That is the work of a lifetime and not fixed with any food plan.

5. And the number one lie I hear from ED in my office every week is: Once I’m recovered, I will be “thin” (which means…)

And then we work on filling in the dots for the associations with what “thin” symbolizes. Some of them include:

  • I will feel confidant/comfortable in my skin.
  • I can dance, wear a bathing suit, do the-thing-I-won’t-let-myself-do-at-this-size.
  • I will be worthy of a romantic relationship.
  • I will be worthy.
  • I can go back to work (postpartum) or
  • I can get or go after the job that I really want.
  • People will love me.
  • People I love won’t leave.
  • People I love won’t die.
  • I won’t have to feel grief, sadness, anger or shame.
  • I won’t be sensitive anymore.

The list can go on, but the important piece here is calling ED out on the lie: if you are human, you are not always going to feel confidant, you are going to be imperfect, regardless of the size of your body. You are going to experience loss. You are going to die. What are you going to do before that? Because that is what ED is doing its darndest to prevent you from experiencing and engaging in: your LIFE.

Stop believing the lies and keep taking tiny (or huge, this can change day-to-day, moment to moment) steps toward fear: your recovery is there, as is your life. Because FEAR can mean many things:

Forget Everything And Run (in the land of ED);

Face Everything And Recover; or

False Evidence Appearing Real.

I hope you choose to walk right into and through that false evidence that appears real according to ED.  It is worth it. Love is on the other side of this false evidence. You are worth it. You always were.


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

It’s Not Your Body’s Fault

Monte Nido Manhattan Primary Therapist Kelsey Fisher, LMSW
approaches each new therapeutic relationship with hope and the belief that full recovery is a genuine possibility for every person who embarks on the journey to wellness. In her writing, Kelsey discusses her work with clients in identifying and challenging their negative body image.

Bad body image is not your body’s fault. In fact, it is not even about your body. Your body’s shape, its marks, dimples and folds, its sensations, pressures and pulses, are not to blame.

Whatever happened to your body, or was said about your body, was also not your body’s fault.

If your body is big or small it is not an accomplishment or a failure.

It is incredibly easy, however, to get confused because we are indoctrinated into a culture of “thin is in” that privileges some bodies over others, a culture in which women and other marginalized people, in particular, are subjected to intense body scrutiny at best and horrific boundary violations at worst.

Our clients often come in with skepticism, despite the well-established assertion (see below for further reading) that it is not your body’s fault. I hear the familiar refrain from people of all sizes, “If I could just lose some weight I would be more of this good thing, less of that bad thing.” In an instant, a glimpse of yourself in a shop window is translated into the litany of ways you could be better, which is often conflated with the newest diet plan. And it’s gratifying for an instant to think that whatever was so objectionable is fixable, but we’re so far off the target that it’s soul crushing. Thinness makes so many promises on which it could never deliver.

When we trash our bodies, we are actually trying to avoid or manage difficult emotions and painful, oppressive social realities.

When I ask my clients to be curious, to consider what they were feeling or thinking right before they hated on their bodies, they might be able to observe for themselves how the thought pattern or feeling associated with hating their body is separate from their actual body.

When we are curious, mindful observers of our bad body image we are developing skills for critical consciousness. By perceiving our painful automatic thoughts or reactions in their full context, we make breathing room for our souls.

“Culture is the way of seeing and speaking that is so much a part of everyday living that it never has to be articulated. Fish don’t know they are swimming in water, until they are a fish out of water.” –Carol Gilligan

Further reading:

The 8 Keys to Recovery from and Eating Disorder By Carolyn Costin

Overcoming Overeating: When women stop hating their bodies By Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter

The Beauty Myth By Naomi Wolf

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

Redefining Resolutions in Recovery

Angie - Color Head shotClinical Psychotherapist and Eating Disorders Specialist Angie Viets, LCP speaks to the pressure and stress the new year can bring to those suffering from an eating disorder. In her post, Angie pushes us to reflect on the idea of a “resolution”, and to use it to help encourage and support recovery.

This will be the year! Back and forth the conversation in my head repeated. One hour the upcoming new year meant I was going to ‘perfectly’ recover, eliminating all eating disorder behaviors, all at once, once and for all. Done. The next hour I plotted methods for ‘perfecting’ my eating disorder. Ambivalence highlighted and amplified by what, another day?

Now, as a recovered clinician, I watch the internal battle I overcame play out in front of me with the beautiful souls who entrust me with their hearts as they recover. As we creep ever closer to the new year, black and white thinking—a hallmark of a brain hijacked by an eating disorder—goes into overdrive. My work as a recovery guide is to aid in softening the sharp edges of all-or-nothing thinking.

The middle path—the place between black and white—offers a bright golden light (gray is far too depressing, we need more light!). When we allow the light to wash over and within us, we find an opening, a secret door. Behind the door is the truth.

The truth about recovery is it doesn’t happen on a certain day. Nor does it happen all at once. We set ourselves up to live in a never-ending failure funnel when we buy into the belief that January 1st we can walk away from behaviors entirely. People, in general, are unable to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because we set ourselves up for failure.


What if reworked resolutions? I had a conversation with Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, Eating Recovery Center Chief Clinical Officer and Medical Director of Child and Adolescent Services to understand how he approaches this time of year with his clients. Here’s what he had to say:

“People’s desire to start fresh or to draw a line in the sand and step over the old and into the new has been around a long time. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to say this is my last year of illness, or I’m going to do whatever I value even better (my sport, school, job, art, passion). However, if it’s unrealistic, too much too soon, or tied to an increased level of stress then it’s an invitation not to make the mark and to continue to chisel away at our self-esteem.”

I loved his criteria for whether or not a resolution will serve you! Check out your resolutions and ask yourself:

  • Is this goal realistic?
  • Is it too much too soon?
  • Will this increase my level of stress?

Dr. Bermudez shared that when resolutions immaterialize it adds to the sense of ‘I can’t’ and ‘I’m stuck with this eating disorder no matter how hard I try;’ which can then become a perpetuating factor of the illness. Beliefs become further entrenched when we’re unable to meet recovery goals, with thoughts like: This is who I am. Who would I be without the eating disorder? This is all I’ve known for such a long time.


I had to laugh when Dr. Bermudez said, “Our biology doesn’t recognize the season. Our body doesn’t know the difference between the 4th of July or New Year’s Day.” That’s so true! We put unnecessary pressure, not only on ourselves, but our body by shocking it into massive change.

Let’s pause and reflect instead. Dr. Bermudez encourages another path. “What if we made this a time of reflection?” He has the following suggestions to consider when you’re making New Year’s resolutions to improve your self-esteem, instead of tearing it down:

  • Set realistic goals.
  • Make your resolutions gradual and sustainable. Small changes rather than unsustainable drastic changes.
  • Remember that change is a process. Make it attainable, which is by far more helpful.
  • Slow down! Make room for subtle shifts which increase your chances of success.
  • Be careful not to add more angst than relief.

By following this more gentle approach to resolutions, you are more likely to find your path to recovery.


Sometimes our New Year’s resolutions seem as ridiculous as tucking in a newborn baby on December 31st and asking the baby to walk when they wake up the next morning, despite their inability to even hold their head up independently, sit, or crawl. We would never put such an impossible task on someone we love. So why then would we do it to ourselves? It’s because we aren’t gentle enough with ourselves. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We don’t treat ourselves with enough compassion. In fact, sometimes we are just down right mean to ourselves.

Perhaps on December 31st we could whisper softly to ourselves, much like to the new baby: “I can’t wait to watch you change and grow stronger over the next year. To witness your courage as you slowly stand back up, careful to regain your balance when you fall. I’ll be right here, ready to hold your hand.”


One of my favorite author’s, Danielle LaPorte, talks about how her New Year’s resolutions always seemed to add stress, “Earn more money, remodel the kitchen, plan a trip…” Danielle realized even as she was considering her goals for the upcoming year she felt dread, overwhelm, and pressure by the process of reaching those goals. Of course, the end result of the kitchen remodel is great, but the stress of having it torn up, managing contractors, the cost and so on are a lot! She got clear that the never-ending striving, hustling, and grinding it out was tearing her down.

With the awareness of how her goals were making her feel, she decided to flip her approach. She began a new ritual, redefining resolutions for herself by getting clear about how she wanted to feel, instead of what she could accomplish.

If you tap into how you want to feel in the new year, you’ll find your resolutions will take on a completely different shape.


There’s a reason the adage, slow and steady wins the race, is so enduring. What do you say, as we embark on another year, we set small, achievable and realistic goals for ourselves. What if one of our resolutions could be to cut ourselves some slack? To make room for more joy, less stress.

Cheers to baby steps, self-compassion when we fall, and steady, gradual growth!

Happy New Year, Beautiful!


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Article Inspiration


Join us in reading soulful articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.


5 Ways to Create a Safe Space for Those Struggling This Holiday Season NEDA Blog

Tips for Surviving the Holidays in Eating Disorder Recovery Psychology Today

Supporting a Loved One in Eating Disorder Recovery During the Holidays ED Recovery Specialists

Facing the Fear of the Unknown in Eating Disorder Recovery Eating Disorder Hope

To Tell or Not to Tell: Therapists With a Personal History of an Eating Disorder ED Catalogue


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

8 Keys Series: It’s Not Just About Food

Monte NidoKeesha - Circle Vice President of Clinical Programming Keesha Amezcua, MA, LMFT, CEDS continues her series this week on the 8 Keys book by Gwen Grabb, LMFT and Monte Nido Founder Carolyn Costin with the 3rd key. In her writing, Keesha explains how this key stresses that the eating disorder is not just about the food, and the ways this is put into practice in treatment at Monte Nido.

Almost every person who has struggled with an eating disorder has been berated by a, often well-meaning, loved one to “just eat a cheeseburger already”. Key 3, which stresses that eating disorders are not just about the food, is the antidote to those comments. This is what makes healing from an eating disorder so complex. Key 3 can help create discussions that explore the range of complex multi-faceted meanings of eating, food, weight and shape.

This is the key where therapists get to pull out all the knowledge they used in graduate school; digging deeper into the underlying issues that result in food and exercise behaviors. In the absence of healthier, more adaptive coping skills, an eating disorder can develop as a way to manage stress, anxiety or depression, family dynamics, cultural pressures and traumatic experiences, among other things. There can also be biological factors contributing to a person’s eating disorder. Therefore, we can’t assume that just reestablishing someone’s relationship with food can heal his or her eating disorder completely. This is why there continues to be such debate in the field about evidence-based therapies and best practices for treating these disorders. If there was one right way, one clear winner in how someone can without-a-doubt get well, every treatment program would look the same and there would be less need for research and conferences. There are obviously some treatment modalities that have proven to work better with certain demographics and diagnoses; but still, those do not give us absolute certainty that a person will recover. Therefore, we continue to utilize an eclectic group of therapies to get at these underlying issues.

Key 3 is not intended to negate the importance of nutritional stabilization; this is addressed in another key. It does make clear that solely addressing the food, in the absence of exploring other psychological issues misses the mark. We can talk about food all day, every day, for a year and not see someone truly progress toward recovery. Someone can restore his or her weight, but if he or she hasn’t explored what was underneath the restricting and weight loss there is a good chance recovery will be short-lived. We need to understand what function or set of functions a person’s eating disorder has served. As clinicians, we have to identify these functions in order to help our clients get their needs met in more adaptive ways. A conversation about kale will only get you so far. Only discussing donuts can be a dead end.

One assignment that Carolyn and Gwen discuss in the 8 Keys book, which Carolyn had initially written about in her first edition of Your Dieting Daughter, is the “Real Issues” assignment. There is a list of 13 proposed issues to provide a jumping off point for clients to delve into what’s really going on underneath their fear of food or their over-attachment to it. This list covers the basic categories and can help a therapist determine what therapeutic modality might best address what’s going on. Is there a need for more psychodynamic work? Family systems? Existential? Feminist theory? Narrative therapy? ACT? DBT? Perhaps some specific trauma work needs to happen via CPT or EMDR? All the while we continue to utilize the CBT techniques as I’ve previously discussed.

It’s not just about the food. This makes this work exciting, ever changing, always challenging and forever interesting. It is also what makes an individual’s recovery unique and lasting.


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

The Fairy Dust

kate-funkMonte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia Primary Therapist Kate Funk, MS, MFT joined the Monte Nido team six months ago when the program first opened. In her writing, Kate shares the journey she and her team have gone on starting as co-workers and now becoming a family, and just how important this relationship is in providing eating disorder treatment services.

In early June I joined the team that would open Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia. During our training, we were promised that we would create a family and enjoy life long relationships with one another. I thought nothing of it at the time, figuring this was something people say when trying to build camaraderie among new staff members. Theoretically a nice concept, sure, but how could they ensure that our site would have that experience? As we learned about the “fairy dust” that sets Monte Nido apart, I hoped that we could give clients the same specialized treatment provided by the staff at the original six-bed facility.

Flash forward six months… Our staff, accompanied by the Chief Clinical Officer and Chief Experiential Officer, shared desserts over a family meal in a local restaurant. As we laughed and dined together, I looked around the table and had a moment, a soul moment. A table of individuals from different corners of the world, various backgrounds and values, experts in our field, strangers just a few months prior, now people I consider family. This was the fairy dust we learned about in training. We had it. A dinner with my coworkers and the heads of the company and I was completely myself; even better, they were all being their true selves. That was a night I’ll never forget.

This is what Monte Nido is all about. We work to wean our clients off their eating disorders and onto healthy relationships with others, but, even more importantly, with themselves. We model this skill with our staff. Monte Nido offers the space for staff to be authentically themselves; modeling this journey of self-exploration invites clients to explore who they are as well. We share with each other our experiences. We share meals and emotions, the good and the bad. We celebrate and we mourn together. We don’t hide who we are we. We don’t turn away from the dark parts. We take the time to go in. Hand in hand. Together.

This is the fairy dust. This is what matters. This allows us to stand apart. Six months ago I wasn’t sure we could recreate the magic that Monte Nido Founder Carolyn Costin originally created, and luckily – magically – we’ve been able to. This is my new family, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of our team.


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.



Selfish or Self-saving?

beth-hartman-mcgilleyMonte Nido & Affiliates Expert Advisory Council Member and Associate Professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Beth Hartman McGilley, PhD, FAED, CEDS is a psychologist in private practice, specializing in the treatment of eating and related disorders, body image, athletes, trauma, and grief. In her writing, Dr. Hartman McGilley speaks to the stress and pressure many of us experience in our every day lives in an effort to be all things to everyone, and reminds us of the importance of saying “no”.

As the holidays near, most of us are in some form of panic about “what needs to be done before.…” Before the relatives come; before the office Xmas party; before taking finals; before the turkey is done; before the year is over. In truth, for too many, this mad rush to “make our lists and check them twice” is a year round ordeal—a revolving door of self-imposed demands that daily dumps us on the threshold of our self-esteem with nagging feelings of deficiency. It drives some to distraction and others to destruction. Either way, it diminishes our precious capacity to be wholly present, and intra- and interpersonally attuned. What good is a completed list with a depleted list maker? One version of this is the “be all things to everyone” persona. Recognize yourself anyone?

Given that we tend to become what we focus on, I prefer to turn this dilemma inside out and explore what it looks like to “be some things, to someone, some of the time!” One tool I offer my clients, to enliven and embody the qualities they admire in others, is to become shameless spies! I ask them to think of a few people who carry themselves and conduct their lives with the character and integrity to which they aspire. And then set out on spying missions to bear careful witness to how those people inhabit their bodies, how they hold others in their gaze, how they negotiate daily demands, how they communicate in simple matters as well as the profound. Once we have a living template for how those cherished qualities manifest in others, we can try them on and in ourselves. Over time, we can develop our own versions, and they become part of our internal and interpersonal fabric.

One of my most spy-worthy friends is Dr. Margo Maine. A prolific writer and passionate advocate, activist and therapist in the field of eating disorders, Margo wastes no time in revolving doors! She has mastered the fine art of living exceedingly productively with what I once heard called “joyful stress.” She is equally facile hitting the gas pedal as she is in using the brakes. “Yes” and “no” are equal opportunity answers depending on the question, and more importantly, how it impacts her in the moment and the longer term. While some may hear that as being self-centered, it’s quite the opposite. I liken it to the metaphor of putting your own oxygen mask on first if a plane is going down. We are only as effective as we are well sourced. If we aren’t connected to self, our relationship with the Divine is compromised (and vice versa). It’s an act of respect and regard for another to manage ourselves—our time, our energies, our money, our hearts. Our word counts, and when asked to do something we’re unlikely to complete, it’s a LOT easier to say no and then yes, than it is to say yes and back pedal our way back to no! Memorize this people pleasers!

Margo was recently distinguished as a recipient of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Women’s Wellness Honorees. All honorees were challenged to answer, in 20 seconds, the following question: What is the single most important thing a woman can do to increase her well-being? She answered: “The most important relationship in a woman’s life is her relationship with herself. Our self-talk can diminish or empower us. In a culture so demanding and dismissive of women, we need to rebel and stop apologizing for not being perfect, and start telling ourselves we are good enough as we are—simply good enough!” Simply. Good. Enough. See how that mantra could burst you out of the revolving door? How would you answer the question for yourselves?

There’s a seriousness to this dilemma that can’t be made pretty, and I offer this to the healers and wholers of the world—no advanced degree required. You, who keep the porch light ever blazing for those in need, who foster and serve the young skin- and fur-clad lost souls, who bathe the feet of the old and dying, who are woke and speak up to indignities. You, who are Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, walking “on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting,” whose nature is so given to giving, it becomes “your place in the family of things.” Your heart doesn’t operate on the clock and the wellspring of your spirit has no depth gauge. You answer the calls, you welcome the tears, you speak truth to power. For you to say “no,” or “not now,” or “not again,” will feel like bending your fingernails backwards. Do it anyways. Give what you give to the person who sometimes needs it the most—yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s self-saving.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.