Experiencing Food From Your Client's Perspective

Friday, March 4, 2011: 10:40 AM-12:10 PM
Point Hilton at Squaw Peak
This mostly experiential presentation will help to deepen the Eating Disorder Professional's understanding of the food relationship as their client feels it, as well as teaching techniques that can begin to change client's feelings toward food. Participants will be guided through several gentle eating experiences that will enable them to get in touch with current feelings about food, as well as past food related traumas that help to build their food relationship.
5 min -       Introduction of Presentation - Alyssa and Debbie

30 min-       Alyssa (Why weight gain and safe foods don’t work)

Discussion of the way in which Experiential Eating assists clients in managing anxiety around food fears and allows for Cognitive Dissonance to be challenged and re-focused with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Techniques.

30 min -      Debbie

Various experiential techniques, when to do them and how to do them. Examples will be:  Letters to and from food, eating with clients in various food challenges, describing gentle eating and mirror eating. 

45 min -       Gentle Eating

Mindful Eating

Sensations of taste, sight, mouth-feel, smells

Variety of textures, shapes, and tastes on the plate

Meditative experience with food (ex: meditative music, guided imagery, relaxation techniques)

Enjoyment of food

45 min-      Mirror Eating

Breakthrough past food traumas

Inner child work


Commitment to self, commitment to self-care

Breaking through Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Accepting nurturance from others

Pushing through “I have no needs”

25 min-      Question and Answer Session


This training will enable participants to develop necessary skills for the integration of psychotherapeutic techniques and nutrition therapy.   It will also enable participants to experience a food relationship from the perspective of the client with an eating disorder with all of the pitfalls and emotional trauma associated around food.  For most Professionals working with Eating Disorders, there comes a point at which they feel helpless to comprehend the resistance the client is presenting, despite the insight and psychotherapeutic progress they are making.  Adding the understanding of Nutrition Therapy will enable the Professional to add another approach to their clinical toolbox.  Various experiential techniques will be explored and discussed, some of which will tap into highly emotionally triggering material that the Professional can then mine in furthering the healing process.  Participants will be able to experience both gentle eating, mirror-eating and food-play for themselves which will then deepen their understanding of their client's complex relationship to food, thereby enabling them to sharpen and hone their clinical skills.
Primary Presenter:
Debra Landau-West, MS, RD

Debra Landau-West, M.S.,R.D. is a private practice dietitian in Scottsdale, Arizona. For 30 years she has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders. She has also been the nutrition director for several in patient eating disorder treatment facilities including Remuda Ranch and Willow Creek. Throughout her career Ms. West has tried to utilize a variety of experiential techniques combined with cognitive therapy and didactic education during clients sessions. In the past she has spoken at several national conferences to share these ideas with other eating disorder professionals. She is currently the co-vice president of the Phoenix Chapter of IAEDP.

Alyssa Mandel, MSW, LCSW

Alyssa Mandel's philosophy centers on empowering clients through the therapeutic relationship. She feels that by working with patients from a non-judgmental perspective, fostering a comfortable and trusting environment and "being where the client is", the time spent in treatment is made more productive. Ms. Mandel earned her MSW at Columbia University, and has been practicing for more than 14 years. Her supportive philosophy is based on years of experience working with people from diverse backgrounds with numerous presenting problems. She recognizes the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to enlist the expertise of other professionals such as Nutritionists and Psychiatrists.

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