Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating are significant yet often overlooked mental illnesses affecting people of every age, race, gender, and status. They affect as many as 30 million Americans, and Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder. Eating Disorders involve extreme emotions and pre-occupations with food, body image, exercise, and nutrition that significantly hinders a person’s view of self and their ability to interact with the world around them. Eating Disorders can be extremely difficult to treat, because unlike other maladaptive or addictive behaviors, individuals cannot simply abstain or avoid food and eating in their lives. Instead, it is vital to utilize social support, healing relationships, and evidence-based treatment approaches to tackle Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating from a team approach.
At BACC, we utilize evidence-based treatment approaches without sacrificing relational warmth and care.
General Signs and Symptoms of eating disorders include the following:
Chronic dieting and exercise despite bodily injury or physical illness.
Pre-occupation with calories, fat content, or nutritional information of foods and drinks.
Fixation on body weight, appearance, or shape, including ritualistic behaviors like constant weighing of self, or checking one’s shape against that of others.
Denying or ignoring hunger or fullness cues in an effort to control intake, weight, shape, or emotions (i.e., anxiety, shame, sadness, anger).
Avoidance of social functions and events that involve food or eating.
Eating in secret, feelings of guilt or shame after eating, or fear toward food and intake.
Adamant refusal to consume certain types or textures of food.
Social isolation and withdrawal, depression and anxiety disorders, fluctuations in mood and sleep habits, complaints of low-energy, tiredness, and sensitivity to cold.
Eating Disorders thrive on secrecy and isolation, not to mention the fact that no two eating disorders are the same. Eating Disorders are best treated using a team approach, where individuals work in collaboration with a therapist, dietitian, and psychiatrist to tailor fit the right approach for recovery. Evidence supports the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Family Therapy, Attachment Therapy, and Group Therapy for eating disorders. In addition, many individuals with eating disorders have also experienced trauma, and can benefit from therapies that help individuals heal from these traumatic experiences.
Heather is a licensed counselor with a Masters of Social Work degree earned from the University of Houston in 1994. Previously in 1989, Heather graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors of Science degree, with a concentration on communications.
It was during college that Heather first experienced the counseling profession as a client. At that time, she struggled with an eating disorder and anxiety. Thanks to great counseling by skilled and compassionate professionals, she fully recovered. Through her own experience, Heather developed a passion for sharing her experience and insights with others. She has been counseling for over 18 years and is able to meet clients where they are in their journey because she is equipped with a unique understanding of both sides of the counseling relationship and process.
Heather’s practice and passion have always been focused on working with children, adolescents, and women. Since 1996, Heather has counseled adolescents in the Harris County Juvenile Probation System, where she has worked with hundreds of troubled teens. During this time, she also continued working with women, including facilitating groups for Gari Meachum, renowned author of the book Truly Fed.
Heather is experienced and comfortable counseling on an individual basis, in a family setting, and in conducting groups. She is well-versed in a broad range of care including physical/sexual/emotional abuse, addictions, self-mutilation, anger management, depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), post-partum, self esteem issues, unresolved trauma, grief, life skills coaching, and many others. Given her personal history, Heather has a special interest in helping people of all ages to identify, to work through, and to develop healthy coping skills for life’s struggles and the feelings that accompany them.
For over twenty years, Heather has been married to the love of her life, Scott Woods. Together we have the privilege of raising four children, now ranging from elementary to college ages.