The Lie of the Wellness Culture
Written by Psychotherapist & Disordered Eating Specialist, Katrina LoBue, Ed.S., LCPC
“Wellness” has become a loaded word, especially within the eating disorder community. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word wellness means “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” However, “good health” has become highly objective yet subjective, especially in a society that promotes a specific, limited, and oppressive standard of health.
We want our patients to be “well,” What does wellness mean? Through the lens of societal expectations, wellness means being in an abled, thin, cis-gendered, and white body. As clinicians, we want to promote wellness that does not create limitations based on our client’s presentation of their bodies; therefore, expansion of the meaning and understanding of wellness must occur. We can advocate for the diversity of wellness within and outside the session space.
Here are 5 ways you can communicate the expanded meaning of ‘Wellness’ in your practice:
1. Recognize your own biases – What do you continue to hold as a standard for wellness? Is this standard based on the individual as a whole or coming from systems of oppression?
2. Educate yourself and your clients about Health at Every Size (HAES) – Health occurs within every body size and shape. Wellness is not limited to the appearance of someone’s body and their assumed health.
3. Recognize and share your findings with peers and other clinicians – Challenge others’ perspectives on their limited views of health and wellness. Remain curious as you help others explore their expanding understanding of wellness.
4. Spread the word – Start holding conversations in spaces outside the mental health world. Educate and challenge the oppressions/oppressors you see in your relationships and the world around you.
5. Give space for continued growth and understanding – Seek restoration through compassion and understanding towards yourself, clients, and others around you and commit to doing better. Maybe this can start with the space your clients physically occupy. Ask yourself: “Are these seats in my office large and supportive enough to hold any size body?” “Do the hallways and doors to my location give space to someone using an assisted mobility device?”
Even one degree of growth, new information gathered or shared, and opening conversations up in new spaces can create valuable directional change. Remember, we are all learning and growing together. Keep being curious, open, and humble as we understand more and shift the way we and our clients interact with wellness.
Written by Mind Body Co-op’s Psychotherapist & Disordered Eating Specialist, Katrina LoBue, Ed.S., LCPC. Katrina has a graduate degree from Loyola University Chicago in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, and is finalizing her certification as an Eating Disorder and HAES Specialist. Katrina has experience working in treatment centers specializing in eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, trauma, and substance use. At Mind Body Co-op, Katrina offers individual sessions and group sessions which explore these areas deeper in a supportive community. See the groups she currently offers, here.
Mind Body Co-op is Chicago’s only space for individuals to discover, explore, and heal what is occurring internally at the cognitive, emotional, and physical levels. This unique, holistic approach to treatment and wellness is born out of the belief that examining the cognitive, emotional, and physical pieces and how they intersect helps lead to uncovering your full potential by providing thoughtful, collaborative, and complete integrative mental health care. We offer a variety of clinical services, including individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, psychological/neuropsychological assessments, medication management, CPT (comprehensive transitional program), medical nutrition therapy, somatic mindfulness, somatic groups, DBT, adventure therapy, therapeutic yoga, and more. We provide culturally competent services in English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Russian & Arabic.