Name: Nicole Marie Lowry
Degree(s): B.S. in Psychology, M.S. in Community Counseling Psychology, NCC (National Certified Counselor), LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of PA)
Occupation: Assistant Director, Personal Counseling Office, Penn State Behrend (13th year here)
How long have you worked at Personal Counseling?
This is my 13th year in the Personal Counseling Office at Penn State Behrend.
Have you seen many students with eating disorders in your office?
The number of students who seek treatment for eating disorders is lower compared to those who seek help for depression and anxiety. However, over the years many students have come to talk about disordered eating patterns including restricting eating, binge eating, and self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, and overexercising. At times, students are struggling with food issues long before they seek treatment and this is why it is crucial to intervene as quickly as these problems come to offer tools by a multidisciplinary team. At Behrend, with the help of faculty, staff, coaches, a physician, and a nutritionist, the Eating Disorder Support Team (EDST) was created THIS YEAR to address the needs of those struggling with disordered eating.
What tools do you often recommend?
The first and foremost treatment concern is if the student is physically healthy. A physician’s appointment is usually recommended to check iron levels, electrolyte levels, etc. Then meeting with a nutritionist can help students learn healthy eating patterns. Sessions with a personal counselor may focus on developing a healthier body image, regulating emotions, working with negative, unrealistic cognitions, improving interpersonal relationships, and tolerating distress.
How dangerous are eating disorders in all reality?
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental health diagnosis. Every 62 minutes, someone dies from an eating disorder (Eating Disorders Coalition, 2016). Nearly half of those with eating disorders have other mental health issues as well making even more important to seek treatment.
Do both males and females come to PC for help with these disorders?
Males and females seek treatment for eating disorders in our office.
What tools does the personal counseling office have for students with eating disorders?
We offer 1:1 therapy and work closely with a nutritionist, physician, and other supports to help students learn better coping skills to manage their disordered eating patterns and other issues that may be present such as substance use, depression, or anxiety.
How can students help their friends if they are showing symptoms?
There are many ways to help someone you care about who may be dealing with an eating issues. First, learn about eating disorders so that you can approach your friend in a direct, honest way. Be caring but firm in sharing your concerns, “I have noticed you are not eating dinner with us anymore, is everything ok?”, or, “I heard you in the bathroom vomiting, can we talk about that?”. Try to be a good role model in terms of eating, exercise, and self-acceptance. Don’t be afraid to tell someone about your concerns or offer to walk them down to the Personal Counseling Office.
What do you recommend for students who believe they may be developing one?
If anyone has concerns about themselves or a friend, I would direct them to the Eating Disorders Screening Tool on the Personal Counseling Website. This assessment is free and confidential and will offer recommendations for support. Here is the link :http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/feelgood
We also have an Eating Disorder Support Team on campus that includes myself, Dr. Angela Rood (Psychology), Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin (Psychology), Mr Dan Eaton (Nursing), Rob Kennuth and Paulina Behrens (Athletic Trainers) and Mr. Greg Cooper (Men’s and Women’s Cross Country/Track coach). Students can seek support from this team as well.
Thank you so much Nicole for all of your insight and help! HCXO
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