If you polled a college eating disorders group, I bet about half of the individuals would be getting a degree in psychology (or clinical social work). Of that remaining 50%, maybe 20% of them are studying nutrition.
It makes sense–you’re drawn to pursue a career in something that you have exposure to. You’re especially interested in the field because of your personal experience. Maybe you are still trying to understand your own issues. Maybe (hopefully not) nutrition is convenient because you are obsessing over food anyway. Or maybe you feel like you were really helped by a therapist and want to give back to the community. It’s all related.
I’m not saying that any of this is negative–heck, I’m a psych major. I’m not really one to judge. However, my larger question is…
How do you feel about being treated by someone with an eating disorder history?
I’ve always felt very strongly AGAINST seeing a therapist who had an eating disorder herself. I think part of that is related to the competitiveness of the eating disorder (not that I think SHE will be competitive, but that I will be), but I also think part of it is about objectivity. I don’t know if you can be completely objective having suffered from the same thing yourself. I’ve never really wanted empathy. Maybe this is weird of me? I just have a thing about people with eating disorders guiding others with eating disorders. It’s the blind leading the blind. I want to work with someone completely removed from the eating disorder world.
I keep thinking back to Dr. Drew and Celebrity Rehab, because he always says “that is addict thinking.”
In contrast, I have friends who ONLY want to be treated by someone who has experienced it herself. They don’t feel like they could possibly be understood otherwise.
I’m sure the answer to this question is largely related to the specific situation… some therapists might not be quite as recovered as they need to be. Others, with no eating disorder history, maybe CAN’T really understand or really help push you.
I felt really strongly about this until actually working with a therapist who had recovered herself. I was a little shocked when she told me (after several sessions)–but it made sense. She understood THAT well–of course she had to have lived it.
Overall, though, I am very wary of people with EDs going that route and eventually treating eating disorders. With such a precarious definition of recovery, I have to wonder if doing this as your career is just another manifestation of the disorder itself–an excuse for it to be a part of your life.