Body Image Concerns

Following national standards for excellent care, Columbia Health has established a multidisciplinary team of specialists in eating disorders. Students who have paid the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee are eligible to receive eating disorder assessments and counseling on campus. Students receiving care at Columbia Health may be provided with short-term individual psychotherapy, group counseling, nutrition counseling, and medical monitoring. The team will continue to assess a student's progress over time and make recommendations based on the student's engagement in treatment and level of functioning.

Eating Disorders Team

The Eating Disorders team is comprised of medical providers and mental health practitioners—physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and psychologists. Students initially demonstrating an eating concern will see a therapist, a nutritionist, and a medical provider for individualized assessments.

Members of the eating disorders team work closely together to provide appropriate assessment of, and treatment for, students with a range of eating, weight, and body image concerns. The team then reviews initial assessments and makes recommendations for treatment.

Consider making an appointment with the team when experiencing one or more of these concerns:

  • Significant preoccupation or dissatisfaction with your body shape or weight
  • Self-worth is unduly influenced by your body image
  • Persistent food restriction due to a fear of gaining weight
  • Persistent over-exercising
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Recurrent inappropriate behaviors in an effort to control weight, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics and so forth

The mental health professionals on the team are:

Annette has over 15 years of experience providing individual and group therapy and psychoeducational outreach to students with a range of eating concerns and has served as the clinical team leader since 2007. She has presented at national and international conferences on the treatment of eating disorders and is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders. She has conducted research on the impact of acculturation, depression, and body dissatisfaction on disordered eating and continues to be curious about social, cultural, and interpersonal factors that may contribute to the development and maintenance of eating disorders. Annette believes the journey toward recovery can be a challenging one but with the appropriate level of support from a multidisciplinary team of eating disorder professionals, students can learn healthy ways of coping with stressful situations; improve their relationships with food, self and others; develop problem-solving skills; improve body image; and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  Annette is fluent in Spanish.

Weiyen joined the Eating Disorders team in 2019. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and is interested in symptoms of anxiety, perfectionism, and their role in eating concerns, particularly with newer culture shifts towards “healthy” and “clean” eating. She aims to develop a collaborative environment in order to identify adaptive strategies for individuals to improve their relationship to food and maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Eduvigis Cruz-Arrieta joined the Eating Disorder team in February 2018. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with 20 years of experience, most recently focused on behavioral health approaches to staying healthy at any size. She brings her experiences as a woman, a bilingual emigrant with a multicultural inheritance, a former dancer, and a seasoned psychotherapist to her understanding of people's relationships to their bodies.

Jennifer joined the eating disorders team in 2021 as a licensed clinical social worker. Prior to Columbia she worked alongside physicians and psychiatrists in a primary care clinic and believes in treating individuals holistically utilizing an interdisciplinary care team. Jennifer has a clinical interest in the effect of culture on the development of eating disorders/body image issues. She uses a culturally informed and strengths-based approach to develop a therapeutic alliance with her patients.

Renee Gibbs joined Columbia Health and the CPS Eating Disorder Treatment Team in 2020 after nine years of psychology practice in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Gibbs provided treatment and led program development efforts in eating disorder treatment and training at the VA, including serving as the national lead trainer and consultant for the Eating Disorder Initiative. Additionally, she was the clinician investigator for a research clinical trial that evaluated a treatment protocol for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) at the PRIME Innovation research program at VA Connecticut. She primarily practices eating disorder treatment from a cognitive-behavioral treatment orientation and is devoted to providing interdisciplinary care with the Eating Disorders treatment team.

Sául joined the Eating Disorders team in the summer of 2015. His work on this interdisciplinary team has informed his understanding of the benefit of treating eating concerns holistically, rather than focusing strictly on psychological factors. The work of eating disorder recovery is difficult. Sául believes that validating students’ struggle with recovery, educating them on the components of a comprehensive treatment plan, and providing support as students begin to make changes are crucial to effective intervention. Sául is fluent in Spanish.

Dr. Lucia Haladjian is a Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined the eating disorders team at CPS in January 2021. Prior to working at CPS, she completed a pre-doctoral internship at a community mental health clinic, Hamilton-Madison House with a rotation at Gracie-Square Hospital at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. Her specialized training includes psychodynamic interpersonal and relational therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral approaches for individuals coping with eating disorders and comorbid anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and trauma-related issues. She is especially dedicated to utilizing these approaches to address immigration and first-generation stressors including acculturation and adjustment, gender-related discrimination, and intergenerational trauma and healing as they impact body image and eating concerns. Lucia is fluent in German. 

Doreen has worked for many years as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. One of her main areas of interest is facilitating the emotional and psychological transition to adulthood. Eating disorders sometimes arise during this period of transitions. She understands that while a person may or may not be particularly distressed by eating disorder symptoms, these symptoms often do represent stress in one or more areas of a person’s life such as social, emotional, academics, and family. She takes a multidisciplinary approach in helping people recover from eating disorders. Doreen is fluent in Mandarin.

Alexandra has worked in the Eating Disorder units at the University of Miami and Johns Hopkins University.  Her research focuses on acculturation processes.  Her interests include the relationship between body image and disordered eating.  She uses literature, film and art in her therapeutic work.

Support Groups and Workshops

When there is sufficient student interest, we offer a variety of groups and workshops that may be of interest, including Making Peace with Food and Reawakening Your Healthy Self: Eating Concerns Group for Women.