Looking for eating disorder treatment and don’t know where to turn? Meet Alyssa Kauffman, M.A., APCC, who is the Associate Admissions Clinician for the adult program at University of California San Diego Eating Disorders Center (UCSD EDC). I got to know Alyssa a few weeks ago, and she is a very kind person who has a heart for helping people get the eating disorder recovery they need in San Diego. In this blog post, she shares a little about herself and explains what the first steps look like in seeking eating disorder treatment at UCSD EDC.
Why did you choose to become an eating disorder specialist in San Diego?
When I started graduate school, I took a special interest in people suffering from eating disorders. I often had to identify a specific client population when writing papers or doing projects, and I always gravitated toward eating disorders. I was very fascinated by the epidemiology of eating disorders, and I quickly learned that eating disorders is not just about food, but so much more.
What kind of treatment do you provide?
We offer Partial Hospitalization Programming (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) for children, adolescents, and adults. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the primary foundation of our Adult program and patients receive individual therapy, DBT skills groups and phone coaching, as well as dietary support through individual appointments with a Registered Dietitian, nutrition groups and cooking classes. Adults also have the option of incorporating family therapy into their treatment. Family Based Therapy (FBT) is the primary foundation of our pediatric and adolescent programs and patients receive individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, phone coaching, and dietary support. Lastly, all individuals in program work with a Psychiatrist.
Besides eating disorders, what other co-occurring issues do you treat?
Eating Disorders tend to be comorbid with other psychological disorders and because of this, we have designed specific “tracks” that are incorporated into one’s treatment plan in order to address comorbidities such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, substance abuse disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
How long have you been working with eating disorders overall, and how long have you been in San Diego?
I moved to San Diego in August 2014 to attend graduate school at University of San Diego. After graduation, I then started working at UCSD EDC, and I have now been working with the eating disorder population for nearly two years.
Who are your favorite types of clients to work with?
Adults! I feel fulfilled and as though I am being most influential when working with adults who are struggling and have tried various ineffective treatments and they still have hope—I love to increase their motivation and help them grow in our program. Moreover, I love working with adults who are blind to their eating disorder and their struggles and I am able to come alongside them and provide them with psychoeducation to shed light on what is happening. I love to engage those patients in evidence-based treatment and see their growth in recovery.
What happens when someone first calls you at the UCSD eating disorder program?
At UCSD EDC, treatment starts with the initial phone call! The patient or family works with a clinician specific to the program about which they are inquiring. The clinician learns about the distressing behaviors and symptoms and provides psychoeducation on eating disorders and the evidence-based treatment we provide. The initial connection is paramount to build rapport and help the patient or family feel confident knowing next steps for their care.
What happens during an in-person assessment at the UCSD eating disorder program?
Patients first meet with a nurse for evaluation. The next step in the assessment process is to meet with an Admissions Clinician. During the comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment, the patient and clinician discuss the history and presenting symptoms of the eating disorder as well as co-morbid features (anxiety, depression, trauma, substance use, self-harm, suicidality, etc.). The clinician collaborates with the patient to create a treatment plan and the patient leaves knowing the exact next steps for care.
What do you wish people knew about getting treatment for eating disorders?
I wish that more people understood that having an eating disorder is not a choice and that recovery is possible. What we know about eating disorders is that they are very complex and research shows that biological factors play a significant role in who may develop an eating disorder and that the individual is not just simply “choosing” to have an eating disorder.
How can people learn more and contact you?
Call me! Anyone is welcome to call our main line (858-534-8019) and ask to be transferred to me. I am always happy to speak with anyone who is wanting to explore treatment options for themselves, as well as family members and friends who are reaching out on behalf of a loved one. I can also provide consultation to other providers who are not quite sure if UCSD may or may not be the right place to refer their patients.
Share one fun fact about you that a lot of people don’t know.
I played soccer for 15 years and I can juggle a soccer ball with my feet over 300 times without dropping it!
Hey everyone, I really appreciate you reading my blog! Have a wonderful day. :)
If you are struggling to find eating disorder treatment 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!