(Joplin, MO) – “Everyone knows someone with an eating disorder, whether you realize it or not,” said Dr. Jenny Copeland, licensed psychologist and director of Reconnect Eating Disorders Clinic at Ozark Center Hope Spring.

During National Eating Disorders Week, Reconnect team members spoke out against the stereotypes to widen the lens, make the public aware of all the unique presentations of eating disorders and that each and every person with an eating disorder deserves help.

“Often, by no fault of our own, we may be oblivious to those suffering from eating disorders around us,” said Dr. Copeland. “For them it is a lonely existence, one dominated by the eating disorder and all the difficult thoughts, emotions and actions that come along with it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”

This year’s theme for National Eating Disorder’s Week is See the Change, Be the Change.

“Each and every one of us can make a powerful difference for those who struggle with eating disorders,” said Dr. Copeland. “Whether this is calling out body shaming and weight stigma, reminding a loved one that their body size does not determine whether they deserve help or taking your own first step on the recovery journey.”

Reconnect utilizes a team approach to help females and males of all ages and sizes who have eating disorders. With effective treatment, 60% of those with eating disorders reach full recovery.

“At Reconnect, we make use of creative tools that research has shown to really work,” said Samantha White, license professional counselor. “One of these is our exposure therapy group. At its heart, our exposure work is about slowly sitting with difficult things – whether that is foods that someone might be fearful of, food rules that need to be broken, figuring out how to look at yourself in a mirror, or facing your fears. This work is truly the path to freedom.”

Finding recovery is not about having the fanciest tools or the best therapist. Reconnect Coaches offer a helping hand in some of a patient’s most difficult moments.

“Those moments may not be what a lot of us would expect,” said White. “They might be making a grocery list or even going to the grocery store, putting what they are learning into practice every day, or even taking a walk without their eating disorder getting in the way. Our coaches bring caring and support without the pressure that can come with an office setting. They walk side by side with our clients in their everyday lives, and that can make all the difference.”

The Ozark Center Reconnect Eating Disorders program includes a psychologist or therapist, registered dietician, psychiatric provider, primary care physician, medical support and Reconnect coach and the patient.

About Ozark Center

Ozark Center is based in Joplin, Missouri and has been an entity of Freeman Health System since 1996. It has been providing comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families since 1965 in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from the Four States. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the behavioral health needs of the community and promote awareness of behavioral health issues in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.