Exploring Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Options? Meet UCSD CHEAR Clinical Director Dr. Rebecca Bernard

Looking for binge eating disorder (BED) treatment options in San Diego? I’ve interviewed licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Rebecca Bernard. She is the Clinical Director for the Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research (CHEAR) at University of California San Diego (UCSD). I attended a training at UCSD by Dr. Bernard, and I really appreciated how well she understood binge eating treatment and how clearly she was able to explain the research on it.

How long have you been an eating disorder specialist in San Diego?

I have worked with patients with eating disorders in San Diego since 2012, but I first began working in this area at Stanford University in 2006. In San Diego, I worked as the Program Director on the Medical Behavioral Unit at Rady Children’s Hospital, which provides inpatient treatment for individuals with comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions, including individuals with complications related to eating disorders. I then moved to working as the Clinical Director at CHEAR, where we provide outpatient therapy for clients with eating disorders, as well as partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs for clients with binge eating disorder.

How did you get into binge eating treatment?

I first began working with individuals with binge eating disorder when I was at Stanford University assisting with bariatric surgery evaluations for adolescents with significant medical comorbidities related to weight. It may seem strange to think about bariatric surgery for adolescents, but these teens were at significant medical risk without surgery. Many of these clients reported binge eating or overeating. Seeing the challenges these clients faced and helping them learn to manage eating disorder symptoms really sparked my interest for working in this field. 

Share a little about your role at CHEAR.

My primary role at CHEAR is to provide and supervise the treatment for our clinical programs, the outpatient therapy clinic, and the PHP and IOP programs. We use evidence-based protocols for the treatment of eating disorders, so a large part of my job is ensuring our clinicians are well trained in these therapy techniques while also being able to individualize the treatment to the specific needs of each client. I also help with supervising several of our treatment-outcome studies at CHEAR.

What can people expect when they first seek treatment for binge eating at CHEAR?

Individuals who are interested in treatment at CHEAR would first speak to a clinician to identify which program is the best fit for the client. The next step is to attend an intake assessment so our team can obtain more detailed information and select the best treatment based on the client’s needs.

What kind of psychological issues are common for people coming for treatment for binge eating?

Individuals with binge eating and overeating often report feeling embarrassed, guilty, or even depressed about binge eating. It is not uncommon for clients with binge eating or overeating to experience symptoms of other psychiatric diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, other mood disorder symptoms, or trauma.

How do you and the CHEAR team address these issues?

We are fortunate at CHEAR to be able to provide different levels of care for BED and overeating. We are actually one of a handful of places that offers higher level of care services for BED, including partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs. All of the treatments we offer are evidence-based, and our therapists receive training in these treatments and ongoing supervision. Our PHP is six hours per day, five days per week and our IOP is three hours per day, three to five days per week.

These more intensive programs are different from many eating disorder programs because we focus specifically on BED through incorporating evidence-based treatments (e.g., CBT, DBT) with novel interventions based on emerging research and what we know about the neurobiology of BED. For example, Dr. Kerri Boutelle (CHEAR Director) has developed a treatment called Regulation of Cues (ROC), which helps clients resist environmental cues for overeating and learn how to listen to one’s own appetite. Another example is computer training focused on decreasing responsiveness to food cues.

What is the one thing you’d like people to know about binge eating treatment.

That they are not alone in facing the challenges associated with binge eating or overeating, and treatment specific to their needs is out there! The key is finding a therapist or program that is a good fit for them and has training in treating binge eating.

Share a fun fact about you that most people don’t know.

I love the outdoors, and before I had kids, I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Thanks so much for sharing about yourself and your work at CHEAR!

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Hey everyone, I really appreciate you reading my blog!  Have a wonderful day. :)  

Marianne 

If you are struggling to find eating disorder treatment in San Diego, or a therapist for binge eating in San Diego, give me a call for your free 15-minute phone consultation at (858) 699-3754, and I will help you get where you need to be! 

You can find more information about me on Instagram @drmariannemiller or on my Facebook page