Continuing Education for Psychologists – The Diet Industry
Article by Andrew Stratton
If you work in therapy, you are likely very aware of the diet industry and the effect the surrounding issues can have on many of your patients. People who are overweight and dealing with food issues make up a significant percentage of patients in the world of psychology. Continuing education for psychologists should consistently cover these contemporary problems which can be every bit as detrimental and damaging as drugs or alcohol.
Unlike drugs or alcohol, the vast majority of the population believes people can kick the food habit on their own, or with the help of a book or a workout video. Even people who have struggled with their food issues for years believe this. If only they could gather the willpower one of these days. If only they could free up an hour a day to get the gym. After “my birthday or Christmas or whatever holiday happens to be around the corner.” The sheer number of excuses is astounding, yet few of these individuals can see what is right in front of their eyes. They have a problem that needs addressing in a serious way, but it escapes them.
Unfortunately, it escapes many professionals in the mental health world as well. Initial college education often spends very little time focusing on the needs of overweight and obese patients. While books are written on how to treat those with drug addictions, the world of food addiction is still treated with a blind eye in many circles. Even by people who should know better. Why is this? Perhaps it is because everyone enjoys food. When you treat a patient with a gripping food addiction, you likely enjoy most of the same foods they do. This is in stark contrast to treating a patient addicted to crack, which you probably have no experience with.
This familiarity with the subject of the addiction can cause a disconnect between your professional training and your “common sense.” As anyone who works within the field knows, “common sense” is often the direct enemy of science. Common sense often comes from buying into tropes and cliches we’ve all heard since the first day we opened our eyes. And, much of the time, this common sense is in direct contrast with the truth. Continuing education for psychologists can be a good way to eliminate these biases once and for all. Patients of all stripes come to seek psychology as a way to confront their demons and conquer them. They cannot be expected to succeed if their doctor does not possess the tools to help them.