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Meet Lauren Muhlheim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Muhlheim.

Hi Lauren, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
During graduate school, I trained in the Rutgers Eating Disorder Clinic under the mentorship of internationally renowned eating disorders expert G. Terence Wilson, Ph.D. There I was trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for bulimia, and eating disorders have been a primary focus and interest of study ever since. After moving to Los Angeles, I worked for ten years as a psychologist for the LA County Department of Mental Health at LA County Jail. After that I resided for three years as an expatriate in the People’s Republic of China and worked there as a clinical psychologist treating expatriate foreigners in two different settings. One setting was a primary care clinic at Parkway Health, the largest international healthcare provider in Asia (www.parkwayhealth.cn). In my work in Shanghai, I gained experience working with clients of many different nationalities as well as cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Upon my return to the US, I obtained training in family-based treatment (FBT) for adolescent eating disorders and opened my practice, Eating Disorder Therapy LA. My practice specializes in providing treatment for eating disorders to people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and body sizes. The primary values of the practice are: 1) increasing access to evidence-based treatment for people with eating disorders who might not otherwise be able to access it (which we accomplish by accepting several insurances, both commercial and public), 2) helping to disseminate evidence-based treatment to more therapists (which we accomplish by training more junior staff therapists in the major ED treatment modalities, and 3) fighting weight stigma and providing care that recognizes body diversity (which we accomplish by working from a Health at Every Size (R) approach). At Eating Disorder Therapy LA, we treat people in-person in Los Angeles and virtually throughout California.

I am a fellow of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED), and certified eating disorder specialist (CEDS) and approved supervisor for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP). I am certified in FBT for adolescent eating disorders and am the author of When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder: Practical Strategies to Help Your Teen Overcome Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating (2019, New Harbinger). I have held leadership roles in several professional organizations including the AED, IAEDP LA Chapter, and the Los Angeles County Psychological Association. I am an IAEDP core course instructor for professionals pursuing certification as eating disorder specialists. I have trained professionals internationally and published several papers and a book chapter.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Working with insurance companies has definitely been challenging! I could go on and on about the difficulties and frustrations of working with insurance. But it’s rewarding to be able to serve populations in LA who would not be able to afford care otherwise.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m proud of my ability to bring people together. I spearheaded the document “The Nine Truths about Eating Disorders” in my board role for the Academy for Eating Disorders. I proposed the idea in response to a request from leaders of several eating disorder organizations to develop common messaging for an Eating Disorder Lobby Day. I worked with researcher Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D. and others to transform a talk she had given at NIMH into this document which was subsequently endorsed by over 30 ED organizations and translated into as many languages. https://www.aedweb.org/publications/nine-truths And in a fun Hollywood twist, I also got the actors of the movie, “To the Bone” including Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins, to create a PSA about it: https://vimeo.com/217554978

Similarly, my book for parents and other work with families aims to center the role of parents in the treatment of their teens’ eating disorders and I advocate for inclusion of families in eating disorder treatment. My collaboration with parents and researchers has led to some recent scientific papers. And I’m extremely excited about the plenary I’m working on for the Academy for Eating Disorders’ International Conference on Eating Disorders in June. The plenary has not been announced yet, but I’m hoping it will help move the field forward in addressing weight stigma.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
People might not know that I worked at LA County Jail for ten years. Or that I lived in China for three years.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Azzie’s Photography

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