Advocacy Efforts Truly Making A Difference

We are so proud and impressed of our women and team members alike who participated in sharing their voices so that schools can administer BMI screening without inflicting unintended harm on students. A big thank you to Primary Therapist Amy Sosa, PsyD for leading the following body image group and guiding this all important advocacy activity. 

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Oliver Pyatt Centers’ (OPC) philosophy of facilitating mindful and authentic living enables women to establish powerful connections to themselves and others. An important component to the recovery process is advocacy and social justice work. Women sometimes develop eating disorders as a way to cope with feeling silenced, unworthy, or unheard. In recovery, OPC believes in the importance of offering a space for women to advocate for themselves and others. Through addressing core issues that drove individuals’ eating disorder and providing a format to challenge such core issues in the social sphere, women can play a role in giving a voice to the silence. This is exactly what OPC did this week.

In light of recent initiatives by the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) to research / raise awareness on the impact of Body Mass Index (BMI) testing in schools, OPC clinicians facilitated activities during weekly Body Image group that centered around ways in which our women are impacted by BMI testing. The group began with a guided imagery in which women visualized a time in which they experienced freedom in their body, a time when negative body image began, and how they currently experience themselves within their body. The women then discussed the experience. Afterwards, facilitators led a discussion on BMI testing. Women were encouraged to reflect on their own experiences of BMI testing by writing down three ways they were impacted by BMI testing. The women then held their writings outward and walked around the room silently witnessing each others’ experiences. There is a lot of power in silently witnessing and being fully present in another person’s experience, and this was no exception. In discussion of the silent witness exercise, women commented that they felt “alone” in their obsession with BMI and that this exercise helped them understand themselves and others in a deeper way. They also commented on a sense of achievement they experienced in being placed in the “low body weight category.” They then discussed ways in which they felt defeated in other areas of their lives, which drove them to look to their weight and BMI as an indicator of success. As an ending to the group, facilitators discussed recent legislation regarding EDC’s initiative to research the impact of BMI testing as well as the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorder Act. Women were invited to write letters to their local congresswomen depicting their experiences with BMI testing and requesting needed change.

You can be a part of this initiative as well.  Reflect on ways in which you or loved ones may have been impacted by mandatory BMI testing within schools. We encourage you to write a letter to your local congressman / congresswoman* asking him / her to:

a.)   **sign the Dear Colleague letter that Ted Deutch initiated, requesting that the CDC communicate guidance and recommended best practices with the Department of Education, so that schools can administer BMI screening without inflicting unintended harm on students and

b.)   **sign as a cosponsor of the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act of 2013, HR 2101.

*You can find your representative by visiting this website and typing in your home zip code. 
 ** Find all forms and further guidance on contacting your representatives here

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

 

Shame and Resilience

Director of Embrace Dr. Karin Lawson initiates a discussion of shame and resilience, how this work has inspired a group within our Embrace programming, and shares an inspirational song serving as a reminder that we are all “human among humans.”

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I have been a fan of Brené Brown, long before she became an Oprah staple. The fact that she has spoken, written, and TedTalked so openly and academically on the theme of shame drew me in the first time I heard her. She is focused on a significant theme that represents the idea of  keeping things securely hidden in the darkness where they fester and grow and eat us alive. By “things,” I am referring to our secrets, including experiences, choices, and/or victimization that we feel cannot bear the light of day. How amazing would it be to tackle the shame that often paralyzes us?

My passion for shame work (and subsequently self-compassion work) was the torch that burned and created space for us to offer a Shame Resilience group in Embrace. It is one of the most cherished groups of our clients and my favorite group to facilitate. One of the basic premises is that we are all going to experience shame; just like sadness, anxiety, and happiness. It is part of our experience. Yet the question is, how do we bounce back from such an intense emotion that makes us want to do nothing but crawl under a blanket? We do the opposite. (Hello DBT!) We share our experience of shame with a trusted person, so that we practice not hiding out, but letting others support us and shining a light on our human experience. This allows us to hear and know and feel that shame hits us ALL at some point … no matter how put together a person might appear. Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt often shares this Kohut quote which captures it nicely; being “human among humans.”

So instead of hiding out in shame and tucking away the things we assume need to be kept secret, I would like to share some inspiration with you in the form of a music video that our co-founder Vicki Kroviak shared with me this week. It features Mary Lambert singing “Secrets.”

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, the binge eating recovery program at OPC please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

BMI Victory at EDC Lobby Day

We are pleased to share an update from the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Lobby Day held on October 1st; resulting in changes of BMI measurements in schools as per the recommendations of the advocates. Outreach Manager Katherine Swain McClayton writes about her first hand experience.  

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On October 1st, I attended my fifth Lobby Day organized by the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC.) As a board member of the EDC, we work to carefully craft our efforts and initiatives to have maximum impact and change. The EDC has many irons in the fire, but at our most recent Lobby Day we asked Congressional offices to sign onto a Dear Colleague letter requesting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) examine how BMI testing is administered in schools. The EDC also provided all members of Congress at their meetings a multi-organization fact sheet on the concerns with BMI collection. The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter was initiated by U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida and is addressed to CDC and the Department of Education.  

The goal of this letter is for guidelines to be put in place as to how to collect BMIs in schools with the concern of weight stigma and harm done inadvertently though this practice. BMI is proven to not be an ironclad indicator of health, and furthermore, the way in which this is currently carried out in schools has its share of horror stories. As one advocate told her story, students standing in a line in a gymnasium, and clapping for the person with the lowest BMI is misguided, irresponsible, and dangerous. The Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) issued suggested guidelines for childhood obesity prevention programs in order to avoid such situations in schools. 

On October 1st, EDC’s Lobby Day hosted the most advocates and meetings with Congressional offices in its history. The energy was even more palpable than usual. At the lunch hearing, four advocates told their stories as to why we need to alter legislation to change the way eating disorders are researched, seen in the public, and covered by insurance companies and received more standing ovations than ever.

Most importantly, we saw immediate action. The CDC agreed to immediately look at their recommendations for BMI measurements in schools. These updates by the CDC include making changes to the BMI measurement in schools information available on their Healthy Youth webpage; providing targeted webinars on this topic to school boards and other organizations, and adding cautionary, safeguard language to CDC’s BMI tool for school calculator webpage. 

Things in Washington, DC do not move at a very fast clip as of late. The Eating Disorders Coalition is proud and excited that the CDC is taking our voices seriously and looking at these changes in BMI screenings. Further victories lie ahead for eating disorders advocates. Yet, this immediate attention and action by our national government gives us hope, excitement, and strength that our work to help all those affected by eating disorders is being heard with louder voices and stronger tones. 

To find out what more you can do: visit the EDC’s website as well as this action alert.

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram