Today, Psych Central Pro Contributor Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C speaks with Hanna Kuyper, MA about her work.
Jennifer: Tell me a little bit about yourself and what got you interested in working with people with eating disorders?
Hanna: The most important roles in my life are mama to my son and a wife to my husband. Becoming a mom has created so much meaning and love in my life. Professionally, I have my MA in counseling psychology with a focus on eating disorders and body image. I am a recovery coach for The Eating Disorder Center and have the privilege of working with patients world-wide in their own journey.
I got into this work because of my own past struggle and an eating disorder. I love being a resource for individuals going through similar struggles I went through. In 2015, I opened iamwell which was a place for women to cultivate a positive relationship with themselves, food and their bodies. From there, I began running groups aimed around Intuitive Eating, Body Image and Self Compassion.
Jennifer: What was the most helpful for you in your own recovery journey?
Hanna: For me, there were so many things that helped me on my journey. The top three were leaning on my support people, allowing myself to make mistakes and beginning to be curious. Eating disorders thrive on shame and isolation so when I finally had the courage to reach out and open up about my struggles, the shame slowly began to leave.
Having a few close people (therapist, friends, husband) that I could share and process with was a huge help.
The second part of this was allowing imperfection to happen. I had it in my mind that in order to recover, I had to be perfect at recovery. This is completely false. Healing is messy, complicated, and a learning curve. Allowing myself to go through the mess is what ultimately led to freedom.
Lastly, approaching things from a curious mindset instead of a fear-based or judgment-based mindset. I began to get curious about my emotions, cravings, what my body was telling me, my beliefs, thoughts, everything. This really laid a strong foundation for me to begin to rebuild myself and discover who I truly am.
Jennifer: How is your recovered life different from your life trapped in an eating disorder?
Hanna: It is so much more enjoyable, rich, meaningful and just FULL. Full of life, relationships, adventures, memories, and so many other great things. I live based off of things I value opposed to rules, fears,and restrictions. I try my hardest not to take it for granted because I remember the days where the eating disorder ran my life.
The sense of freedom I have now is something I want everyone to experience.
Jennifer: How can a recovery coach help someone who is struggling with an eating disorder?
Hanna: As a recovery coach I love being a part of your treatment team. I am happy to work alongside you and your team as you navigate this journey. Through coaching, we work closely together to set goals, push through limiting beliefs and discover self-compassion, body positivity and food freedom.
Jennifer: How would you describe your approach as a recovery coach?
Hanna: I tailor coaching based upon each individual’s needs. However, as a recovery coach i am action oriented. I enjoy setting goals and utilizing effective tools and strategies with clients. I believe in an “all foods fit” approach and Health At Every Size. I specialize in helping people recover from eating disorders and body image issues.
My goal it to create a safe, judgment-free environment where you can feel comfortable exploring and navigating your journey.
Jennifer: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?
Hanna: The most challenging part of my job I would say is to see the body shaming and discrimination that still happen towards people who are larger bodied. I am very privileged and do not have to put up with a lot of the bullying and stigma that others who are larger bodied do.
Seeing other people who are intelligent, respectable, and making a very large impact on this world with their abilities and gifts be shamed and bullied because of their body size is difficult. It is still something I am navigating on how I can do more to help break this stigma.
I would say the most rewarding part of this job is having the privilege of walking alongside someone in their own journey. Watching them explore their beliefs, uncover values and work towards healing is such an incredible experience.
Jennifer: What are your biggest pet peeves about diet culture?
Hanna: This could turn into a very long list but the big one is how diet culture is so deceiving. It’s wrapped up in a pretty little package and promises you the world. It makes you feel like you aren’t enough and you need to change. Diet culture is an industry that thrives on making you feel terrible about yourself. There is a lot of work being done to uncover the damage that diet culture causes.
Jennifer: Anything you’d like for me to shout out or link to?
Hanna: Instagram page @hanna_kuyper and you can learn more about me on The Eating Disorder Center’s website: https://www.theeatingdisordercenter.com/