What is weight stigma?

Last week was Weight Stigma Awareness week, initiated by the National Eating Disorder Association in 2011 as a means of bringing attention to the impact that weight stigma has on disordered eating, mental health, and healthcare for those with eating disorders or individuals living in larger bodies. It’s an important week for the eating disorder community, and I want my readers to know about it.

Weight stigma is discrimination based on an individual’s size. It most often affects people  living in larger bodies, though individuals in smaller bodies may also be impacted. Weight stigma, or weight bias, results in individuals being judged or stereotyped based on appearance. For instance, an individual seeking medical attention might have health issues blamed on their weight when the issues are weight-unrelated. Or, two individuals eating cupcakes side-by-side might be judged differently (one as having fun, one as being irresponsible) in relation to their body sizes. Weight stigma and weight bias inevitably foster shame and low self-worth in victimized individuals, which can easily translate into disordered eating patterns or mental health diagnoses.

Unfortunately, weight stigma continues to be largely culturally accepted. While there are movements underway that challenge weight stigma (Health at Every Size, Body Positivity), the attitude that weight must be managed or fixed is still very much accepted and endorsed by medical and mental health professionals. This is harmful to patients in both instances.

If you’re being victimized by weight stigma, I encourage you to seek support in communities that embrace Health At Every Size. The culture is shifting too slowly, but changes are afoot!


Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



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