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Interested in eating disorders but... pigeonholing?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by chicandtoughness, May 21, 2017.

  1. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Hi everyone. I'm about to apply for (masters level) internship and am struggling with what area I'm interested in. After graduating from my CACREP program, I intend on working 1-2 years and then returning for a PhD in Clinical and/or Counseling Psychology (based on faculty match, either is okay).

    I've been interested in working in the eating disorders subfield. College counseling (as in UCC, not academic counseling) is my other choice (note I didn't say second choice). I'm just terrified that if I pursue ED, I might be pigeonholding myself into a very specific subfield that I won't be able to easily transfer to another if I so choose. I've worked as a milieu coordinator (tech) in two ED program before (one residential, one PHP), so I'm familiar with the general modality of treatment. The structure and specificity of the field makes me wonder if it is viable to work in the ED field for a few years and then switch into UCC?

    I would be happy with either option, but given how how close-knit and how scarce the positions are in both fields, I want to sufficiently prepare and focus my efforts on the one that is most likely to stick.
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  3. PsychPhDStudent

    PsychPhDStudent 7+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2009
    neither of these are my fields, so I can't advise you too much. However, when I did my UCC practicum, there were multiple people on staff who specialized in eating disorders. Comes up a lot in the college setting. Could be an asset...could also pigeonhole.
    Roberta Sparrow likes this.
  4. MCParent

    MCParent Faculty Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    I'm not totally clear on what you are asking. ED can be either a specific setting (e.g. residential tx) or a presenting concern, whereas UCCs are a setting for broad array of services.
    Based on what I think you are saying, I would suggest you make your aim to be the treatment of severe EDs in hospital settings. That would probably leave the most doors open. It would be harder to have experience in seeing the normal presenting EDs in a UCC setting (i.e., not warranting inpatient tx) and then try to break into residential or hospital settings, than to have experience with the most severe cases and then actually do something more broad.
    sabine_psyd likes this.
  5. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2005

    1) hospital based eating disordered treatment is a significantly growing area with substantial potential for financial reward.

    2) like a college freshman who says they are going to do the long distance thing with their SO, returning to a doctoral program after a few years of working tends to not work out.
  6. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Sorry, I was a little all over the place with my post. I meant was referring to EDs as a treatment setting, not just a presenting problem. That is, will working exclusively for a few years in a residential ED program pigeonhole me into the ED subfield?

    Trust me, I'd love to go directly into a doctoral program, but I have some specific financial circumstances that do not allow that.... nor do I think I will be able to get in on first cycle, so I am keeping a contingency plan.
  7. G Costanza

    G Costanza Psychologist - UCC 5+ Year Member

    Jun 23, 2011
    Many people who work in UCCs have experiences at inpatient ED clinics. It's often seen as a strength in the hiring process as long as they can articulate how they would work with other presenting concerns.
  8. CWard12213


    Apr 2, 2016
    It won't inherently limit you, but if you move to an area where eating disorder therapists are scarce (which is nearly everywhere) the demand for that particular service may result in it being a large part of what you do. For example I live in a city of 150,000 and am one of two providers trained in ED treatment so I'm responsible for a lot of people
  9. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Interesting. Do you think the scarcity is because of the lack of clinicians interested in that particular presenting problem, or a lack of facilities that are able to train said clinicians?
  10. LPS12


    Dec 28, 2017
    Hi I'm currently looking into graduate school programs either Psy.d or PhD am open to both. However I am looking to specialize in eating disorders. Does anyone have any recommendations on the east coast? Thank you!
  11. arcus


    Nov 30, 2017
    Harvard has the # 1 Psychiatric hospital in the USA according to US News & World Report, FWIW.

    McLean Named America’s #1 Hospital for Psychiatry by U.S. News & World Report
    Dr. Rauch is the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Chair of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School as well as chair of Psychiatry and Mental Health for Partners Healthcare.

    I have no first hand experience with McLean Hospital. It has an eating disorders clinic with staff authoring recent publications on AN in 2017 found here and here

    I have been sending all of the medical literature I can find on AN to a very close friend who lives on the East Coast. My friend has a daughter, now age 19, with full blown AN dx at age 16. She had been hospitalized twice prior to turning 18 for nutrition. The parents are desperate but now that the daughter is of legal age, they can't force her to be admitted even if the daughter intellectually recognizes she has a deadly ED. She is presently a Sophomore in college out of her home state, full scholarship, 4.0 GPA, sweet girl, but has not gained a pound since high school. Frail, no menses, no breasts, dangerously thin, classic AN presentation. I saw her over the holidays and I gasped when I saw her across the room.

    There is an incredible need for specialists in ED, be it outpatient or residential.
    From a business perspective, if you could show positive results, you'd be sitting pretty.

    So yes, go into ED asap. if not Harvard, any top rated research medical school (e.g. Duke). The field is wide open and at this day and age, there should be more to offer than a 50% mortality rate
  12. LPS12


    Dec 28, 2017
    Thank you so much! I currently do volunteer work in the ED field and the resources are so limited it breaks my heart. There should absolutely be more to offer! My long term goal is to open up my own outpatient private practice that would consist of a team of ED specialists who work together and give those struggling the support they deserve. I'm so sorry to hear about your friends daughter, have they looked into forced treatment options..NEDA has great resources that could potentially help. Sending my prayers to them. Hopefully she is able to get the help she needs.

    If anyone knows of any scholarships as well that would be VERY helpful, I could use any help I can get in finishing my undergrad right now.
  13. Roberta Sparrow

    Roberta Sparrow

    May 30, 2017
    Do you have an idea of where you want to live geographically when everything is said and done? My work is pretty specialized as well (sex offenders and, more broadly, forensics) but knew that there were plenty of options for work where I would be living. That made it a bit easier for me to jump into specializing. The other piece is that while I imagine working with EDs requires specific treatment modalities and approaches, there are also likely enough commonalities with other populations that could help you generalize your experience to other positions and settings. For example, I did work with compulsive sexual behaviors for two years and found that I could generalize that experience to college counseling (identity development, interpersonal dysfunction, emotional regulation, healthy relationships, trauma, mindfulness/meditation, etc.).
  14. oathkeeper

    oathkeeper 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2014
    I work in the ED field in a hospital setting.. I enjoy the work but do miss working in a broader setting. Honestly, I had a generalist training before obtaining this position (CBT and DBT) which I still use due to the high comorbidity with other symptoms. My job then paid for me to get specialty training in FBT.

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