A 5 minute Juice with Eating Disorder Therapist Jennifer Rollin
Posted on September 28th, 2017
I’m really excited to share one of my favourite Eating Disorder bloggers Jennifer Rollin for this weeks 5 minute juice.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C is a therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland, eating disorder and body image specialist, and expert writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people to find freedom from eating disorders and body-hatred, and to discover self-compassion.
Jennifer has completed certificates in CBT-E for Eating Disorders, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is a member of The Junior Board of Directors for The National Eating Disorders Association. Her articles have reached thousands of people through print and online media including, The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
She offers eating disorder therapy in Rockville, Maryland and eating disorder recovery coaching to people worldwide. To connect with Jennifer, check out her website: www.jenniferrollin.com
Without further ado, may I present Jennifer…..
So Jennifer, you can invite 4 other people to dinner and they can be real, fictional, dead or alive, who would they be?
Wow that’s a big question. Hmm, Kristen Neff (a researcher who studied self-compassion), Martha Lineham (the founder of dialectical behavioural therapy), Brene Brown (author and speaker), and Tara Brach (psychologist and meditation guru). I feel like you can tell I’m a therapist, based on this answer.
You work in Eating Disorder recovery, can you tell our readers a little bit more specifically what this entails?
Sure. I help people who are struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating, and body-hatred to find freedom, as well as to practice self-compassion. Eating disorders give temporary moments of “calm,” or “happiness” and long-term misery. I am so thankful to be able to help people to recover and enjoy their lives.
At what point in your education did you decide that this career path was for you?
I decided that I wanted to focus on eating disorders in my second-year practicum in graduate school.
What did your training involve specifically?
I got my Master’s in Clinical Social Work with a focus in mental health. I completed multiple years of school, and also had to do two clinical practicums where I worked as a therapist in training. I had to take two clinical exams to get my license. After that, I worked as a therapist for almost three years in a residential setting for teen girls. During that time, I also did eating disorder recovery coaching and received certificates in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders, Intuitive Eating Counseling, and Advanced Studies in Traumatic Stress. I am currently in private practice as a therapist working with teens and adults struggling with eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, compulsive exercise, as well as body-image concerns, anxiety, and depression.
You mention on your website that you enjoy using elements of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Can you briefly explain to our readers what this includes?
Definitely. In a nutshell, CBT looks at how the way that we think about things, as well as our “core beliefs,” shape our emotions and reactions. DBT integrates CBT and mindfulness. It involves a variety of DBT skills that people can use in distressing situations. ACT is similar, however it also integrates a focus on taking actions that are in alignment with our true values-which I think is very important, specifically when helping people to recover from eating disorders and body-hatred.
I think the US is a bit ahead of us here in the UK, but in the last 3-4 years we’ve seen a huge rise in “clean” eating. How does this “healthy” style of eating impact the work you do day to day and what are your opinions?
“Clean” eating can be a “social acceptable way” for individuals to restrict food or to live with a series of food rules. I find that this eating style can trigger people with the underlying genetics for an eating disorder, can cause people with eating disorders to stay in this phase of “partial recovery” for longer, and can even develop into orthorexia for some. I don’t believe that “clean eating” is helpful, and encourages clients to break away from food rules or food judgements.
There is increasing publicity around the phenomenon of Orthorexia. Is this something you are seeing more in your practice and do you have any thoughts on it?
Definitely. I think that for people with the genetics for an eating disorder (and with the rise of the “clean eating movement”) it’s easy to see how someone could fall into the trap of Orthorexia. They might initially think that they are just “being healthy.” However, typically what happens is that they start cutting out more and more foods, and judging themselves as “good” or “bad” based on how they eat. This can lead to poor physical and mental health, as well as social isolation.
You are a certified Intuitive Eating counsellor. On social media we see the term intuitive eating thrown around a lot. Perhaps you might be able to explain why people can’t just wake up one morning and become an intuitive eater, and why it’s a bit more complex than this?
I think that learning intuitive eating is like learning any new skill. It can take some time and practice, and often people’s healing journeys are not liner. We’ve been so taught through society and diet culture to ignore our hunger cues and cravings, therefore it makes sense that it would take time to learn how to honour our hunger, reject the diet mentality, and make peace with food.
What is the best advice you would give to someone struggling with an eating disorder?
That it’s not your fault that you are struggling and you are so not alone. I would also tell them that even if you don’t think “it’s that bad,” or for some reason you are questioning whether you are actually struggling, it’s so important to reach out for help from a specialist. Getting help when you are suffering is a sign of true strength, not weakness. With access to treatment and support, full recovery is possible. You don’t have to stay trapped in this forever. There is so much hope.
I’m sure your job comes with many challenges. How do you take time to unwind and keep a level head.
I meditate almost every morning (even if it’s only 10 minutes) with an app called Insight Timer. This really helps me to stay grounded and present throughout my day. I also practice what I preach when it comes to self-care. I take bubble baths, read, listen to podcasts, spend time with family, friends, or colleagues.
Do you have any books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you might recommend to those struggling with disordered eating?
Yes! I love “The 8 Keys To Recovery From an Eating Disorder” by Carolyn Costin. In terms of podcasts, Food Psych, Body Kindness, The Body Love Project, and Life Unrestricted are all great. I also write a blog on my website at www.jenniferrollin.com
To finish things off, I’m interested, what would be your last meal on Earth?
Probably homemade pasta (so yummy!) with meatballs or gnocchi with butter and parmesan, with a side salad with feta and watermelon. Most importantly though, I’d hope if it was my last meal on Earth that I’d be eating it with people that I care about.