Eating Disorders Triggered by the Holidays

by Janine Vlassakis Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Believe you can and you're halfway there.                                   

Theodore Roosevelt 

The “most wonderful time of the year” can be tough for those suffering from an eating disorder. The holidays can be overwhelming and stressful with so much focus placed on food in social environments.  As a result many, and especially those with eating disorders, become anxious, upset or engage in disordered eating behaviors to attempt to mitigate their anxiety.  Here are suggestions to get through the holidays:

·          Remind yourself or your clients of common self-soothing practices and avoid dangerous coping mechanisms. 

·           Identify or encourage yourself or your client to identify what is “happy” about the holidays.  That simple reminder can help focus on the positive aspects of the season.

·          Families can play an integral part in helping the holidays be joyful. Remind your family or your clients’ family what a trying time this may be.  While food is an inherent part of most events during the holidays, families can help diffuse the focus by planning activities such as a craft or family game to focus on as a distraction. 

·          Remind your family or your client’s family that discussing your appearance may do more harm than good.  Help close family understand that statements such as, “you look so much better!” can translate to “I look fat” in your or your client’s mind.  Ask family to make other family members aware as well, so time with family can be remembered as positive rather than triggering negative emotions. 

·          If you or your client is taking a break from treatment over the holidays, be sure to address any concerns about being away and social situations.  Be sure to strategize and discuss skills to continue recovery. 

·          Arrange a time to start back into therapy after the holiday to continue treatment in the New Year.

·          Be mindful and encourage clients to be mindful of the positives of this time of year.  Focus on time spent with people supportive in recovery, and to create new happy memories to reflect upon next year.

Janine Vlassakis, M.Ed. is the Mid-Atlantic Professional Relations Coordinator for the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center.  Her role at CEDC is to provide clinicians and other professionals with information about the levels of care which CEDC offers.  In addition, with her background in counseling and education, she speaks regarding various topics relating to the complexity and treatment of Eating Disorders.  


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relationships, friendships | Self-Care | Social Work | Treatment Modalities

Suicide Prevention Blog Series: Clinical Tip #2

by Staff and Faculty of the QPR Institute Saturday, October 26, 2013


In honor of the launch of the HelpPRO Suicide Prevention Therapist Finder (see Press Releasewe bring you this five part series of clinical tips with the most up to date research and thinking on suicide prevention.  

Paul Quinnett, PhD, President and CEO, The QPR Institute, Inc, says 22 veterans will take their own lives today.  So will someone's daughter, a brother, a co-worker, and far too many working men and grandfathers.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in just one day, more then 105 of our fellow Americans will die by suicide.  Perhaps this clinical tip will save just one.

Clinical Tip #2 -- Documenting Reasons to NOT Hospitalize

When deciding not to hospitalize a patient at risk for suicide, it is important that the clinician conduct a risk-benefit analysis.  The reasons for hospitalization may include the relative assurance of a safer, more controlled environment, a beneficial milieu, multidisciplinary staff evaluation, initiation of stabilizing medications, etc.  The reasons not to hospitalize a suicidal person might include potential loss of self-esteem, stigmatization, risk of losing a job, fostering unwanted dependency, failure to benefit from prior hospitalizations, etc.  When confronted with a possible hospitalization, the patient may also express a willingness to participate in outpatient treatment and adhere to a medication regimen. 

Whatever your reasons to not hospitalize a consumer who has expressed suicidal ideations, prior plans or suicide attempts, it is strongly recommended that the primary care provider seek consultation and/or supervision regarding the decision and to carefully document the reasons for this decision.  In a world of increasing litigation for suicide malpractice, and if a bad outcome is experienced, an uniformed jury will need to be convinced that 1) you thought the problem through, 2) you weighed the risks and benefits carefully with the patient and his or her family, and 3) you took a reasonable and prudent course of action.

The QPR Institute ( provides Online Advanced Suicide Prevention Courses for a wide range of professionals including: Mental health professionals, school counselors, crisis line workers, substance abuse professionals, EMS/firefighters, law enforcement, primary care providers, nurses and correctional workers.

For more information please visit our full library of advanced courses!


Paul Quinnett, PhD., Founder & CEO QPR Institute,


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Self-Care | Social Work | Suicide Bereavement | Suicide Prevention | Treatment Modalities

A Dream Come True

by William L. Blout LICSW Monday, September 9, 2013

We founded HelpPRO on a simple dream: “Everyone should be able to find needed mental health services quickly and easily.” We believed that a dedicated group of people and technology offered the possibility that this dream could become a reality.

In1998, a few years into the development of HelpPRO, I found out about the tragic suicide of the publisher of a local newspaper.

Suffering from severe depression, Timothy Hogan tried in vain to find a therapist who could help. He called a Massachusetts professional association referral line, his insurance company and a local hospital but instead of help, he encountered frustration.

In the end, Mr. Hogan wrote in his suicide note: “My only hope is that my death will awaken the healthcare community and lives will be saved.”

Thanks to 500 HelpPRO therapists who already joined, on September 10th, Suicide Prevention Day, we will launch the first Suicide Prevention Therapist Finder.

And the staff in 160 crisis centers nationwide will use this finder as a resource for people calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Mr. Hogan, we heard you.  

In 1995 Bill founded HelpNet, Inc. and developed HelpPRO Therapist Finder at Bill is an active advocate for mental health services in his community in Lexington, MA. Bill served as chair of the Lexington Human Services Committee and was a founding member of the Lexington Youth Services Council. Bill is a founder, past president, and clinical consultant with Lexington Youth and Family Services (LYFS), a walk-in adolescent crisis counseling service that began in 2011. From 1978-1994 Bill was the Director of RePlace, Inc., a community-based,  adolescent and family counseling center in Lexington. Bill also maintains a part-time mediation and clinical practice.


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Suicide Bereavement | Suicide Prevention


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