How to Become an Eating Disorder Psychologist

Overview

Eating disorders affect a lot of people today. Occurrences like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have gotten very common today for the simple reason that people do not know how to handle their eating and weight control matters.

Eating disorder psychologists offer very useful expertise in helping the person with such a problem to get to a normal eating lifestyle. The reason why the problem needs to be handled professionally is that normally an eating disorder gives rise to a number of other health challenges that may compromise the life of the person in several ways.

What are the Duties of an Eating Disorder Psychologist?

  • These psychologists work together with other professionals who are obligated to help alleviate the problem that the patient faces. Often, the doctor may be needed to state that the patient is not suffering any other complicated malady.
  • They do the work of assessing the patient and determining the causes of the problem.
  • Coming up with a treatment plan that will help the patient deal with the mental or emotional causes of the disorder.
  • Gradually through therapy assisting the patient to avoid the retrogressive thoughts that may be to blame for the eating disorder. Usually, this can be done through focusing on importance of keeping healthy rather than merely watching on weight.

What are the Requirements to Become an Eating Disorder Psychologist?

Education

To become a successful eating disorder psychologist, one needs to have the right education and training. The requirement necessary for one to break into the field is a master’s and/or doctorate studies in clinical psychology. Alternatively, one can also opt for a master’s and/or doctorate in counseling psychology.

To start off, it would be important to go for a bachelor’s degree preferably in psychology. Each graduate school has its set of requirements but basically they check on adequate psychology coursework to give a student admission. Biological studies may also improve on the chances one has to be given an admission. One may need to sit and pass the GRE test in most instances. After that, one would need to enroll for a master’s degree which would take two years of study. If a Ph.D. is desired, the period of study can stretch to 5 years.

Related: How to Become an Eating Disorder Counselor

Biological lessons, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, social work and personality classes are some of the areas of focus that are taught to students wishing to engage in this kind of work. Of course the research that is needed in this kind of training revolves around ways of finding underlying patient problems.

Internship

A supervised internship is an important aspect of the training of an eating disorder psychologist. One will have to get the real experience of working with patients having eating related problems. This will definitely be needed if one is to planning to get the license from state agencies. A dissertation report will also be needed if one is to go ahead and break into the field of eating disorder psychologists.

Other Essential Skills Required

  • Good listening skills- to enable one understand the problems of the patient.
  • Influential- to be able to challenge the patient to stop negative thinking.
  • Good speaking skills- ultimately it is the way these psychologists to convinces the patient that will stir a different perception of the situation by the latter.
  • Creative problem solving skills- it is the ability to propose new avenues of solving underlying problems that will spur success.
  • Patience- when working with these psychologically compromised people, one needs to have lots of patience to make any progress.

What is the Salary for an Eating Disorder Psychologist?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage earned by clinical and counseling psychologist was $74,030 in 2014. However, a number of factors come to play in determining the amount that is earned by eating disorder psychologists. Experience as well as the level of education will play an important role in the wages one goes home with. Usually, there are even variations in the wages earned depending on the state that one lives in.

What is the Job Outlook for an Eating Disorder Psychologist?

The prospects of finding employment in this sector are positive. This is because there are several people facing weight control issues and a number of them end up with eating disorders. Hence, these professionals have become an integral part of hospitals and healthcare centers where there is acknowledgement that there needs to be a psychological approach to the issues of eating disorders.

As with several other branches of psychology, the demand for these professionals is set to increase in coming years.

What Careers are Similar to Eating Disorder Psychology?

There are many careers available for individuals to enter the field of treating eating disorders:

Registered Dietician: Registered dieticians often work cooperatively with an eating disorder psychologist to address the changes in diet that are necessary to help a person with an eating disorder develop a better relationship with food. Registered dieticians will devise a detailed meal plan that is healthy and well-balanced. Often, registered dieticians will also implement Medical Nutrition Therapy, which combines detailed meal plans, nutrition therapy, and education about food to help facilitate the recovery process.

Eating Disorder Psychiatry: Like eating disorder psychology, eating disorder psychiatry seeks to treat the mental and behavioral aspects of eating disorders. In addition to providing counseling services, psychiatrists, as trained medical doctors, can also prescribe and manage drug therapies to help their patients deal with the symptoms of their eating disorder. Often, eating disorder psychiatrists will work alongside psychologists and other professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and drug therapies.

Marriage and Family Therapy: While marriage and family therapists typically do not specialize in the treatment of eating disorders, they nonetheless serve a similar purpose as eating disorder psychologists. In the context of family counseling, therapists in this field help sufferers of an eating disorder to identify maladaptive eating patterns and the associated maladaptive thought processes that go along with it. Therapists enlist the help of family members to help monitor the progress of their loved one, implement meal plans developed by dieticians, and implement strategies for learning new skills to overcome the eating disorder. This type of therapy is particularly useful for parents learning how to help a child with an eating disorder.

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