Hello. You may have reached this page because a patient/client of yours is considering, or has begun, recovery coaching with me for their eating/body difficulties.
If so, please be assured that my coaching service is not envisaged as a replacement to the support you provide, and that I’m keen to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your patient/client.
I hope that the Q&A I put together here may answer many of your questions about what I offer. A little more information on my credentials may be helpful, though.
I’m a researcher based at the University of Oxford with a background in cognitive literary studies and, more recently, health humanities. You can find a list of all my publications (mostly academic) here, and more details on my mental health-related research activities and publications here. This includes my primary current research focus, the potential benefits (and dangers) of ‘bibliotherapy’ for eating disorders, a project which began life as a collaboration with the UK eating disorder charity Beat. I have also published a paper in Frontiers in Psychology arguing for a behavioural focus in eating disorder treatment. It’s entitled ‘Treating eating: A dynamical systems theory of eating disorders’, and you can find it open-access here.
As I explain in the FAQs, my Psychology Today blog A Hunger Artist has been the main motivation to me in setting up this coaching service. Readers contact me on a near-daily basis asking for advice with the practicalities of their recovery—and indeed for advice on how to take the plunge and commit to recovery at all. Coaching is a way to provide the help they’re looking for in a much more in-depth and sustained manner than email or web comments alone permit.
If you’re interested to see a sample of the kinds of interactions I have with blog readers, you could take a look at my post ‘Recovering from anorexia: How and why not to stop halfway’. This post has elicited more comments than any other (scroll to the bottom to see the discussion). I had no idea when I wrote the post back in 2014 just how powerfully it would touch a nerve. Making initial progress in recovery but then getting stuck somewhere beyond the clinical danger zone but far short of true freedom from disordered thoughts, feelings, and behaviours is clearly a common experience, and it is one of the primary situations my coaching is designed to address. As such, coaching complements rather than replacing the more intensive support many people may have accessed earlier on in recovery.
Overall, the blog draws together my personal past experience of anorexia (between about 1998 and 2008) with what I have learned about others’ recovery processes, and with scientific and other research relevant to eating disorders. Generally speaking, the early posts (starting in 2009) are primarily autobiographical, and the more recent ones tend to incorporate more of a research element. Based on numbers of views, other posts which appear to have resonated especially strongly with readers include:
- A two-part account of how metabolic rate changes in anorexia and recovery (Part 1 is here)
- A description of the physical effects of weight restoration (here)
- A discussion (here) of the extent to which anorexia is a physical illness of starvation (which draws, as do the metabolism posts, on the remarkable Minnesota Starvation Study)
- And an exploration of the ‘six seductions of anorexia’ (here), or what makes having a restrictive eating disorder seem like such a good idea in the early honeymoon phase.
These indications of importance provide a mandate for practical support which actively targets weight restoration and the normalisation of eating behaviours as a core part of promoting full recovery—as well as the need to take the egosyntonic aspects of disordered eating seriously in any support for change.
My view is that acknowledgement of the psychological realities that make behavioural change difficult is crucial, but that ultimately, if behaviours and hence bodily state remain the same, nothing else can ever change. The coaching I offer attempts to do justice to the powerful interactions between physical, behavioural, cognitive, and emotional realities, in order to help the person I’m working with live happily, healthily, and freely.
Please get in touch at hunger.artist.coaching [at] gmail.com or via the contact form on this site if you have any questions or concerns; I’ll be happy to talk by email, video chat, or phone. Meanwhile thanks for your interest in what I do.