Recovery Story – Carolyn Costin
Carolyn Costin, MFT, recovered herself from anorexia, has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders and exercise addiction for thirty years. Carolyn is founder and director of The Eating Disorder Center of California and Monte Nido and Affiliates, which now has three unique residential centers in natural, home-like settings.
Carolyn is a sought after speaker at national conferences and is known for engaging her audiences and giving hands-on skills. Carolyn’s books, The Eating Disorder Source Book (2007), 100 Questions and Answers, About Eating Disorders (2007), and Your Dieting Daughter (1997), have helped professionals and the lay public in understanding, treating and preventing eating disorders.
Carolyn’s struggle with an eating disorder started in the summer between her junior and senior years of high-school. A weight loss bet with her friend’s father started her intense dieting process, and then triggered her tendencies toward perfectionism and compulsiveness.
She won the bet, but kept on dieting. Carolyn lost about 50 pounds over the course of the following three years. It was 1975 and minimal information about eating disorders was available. In fact, Carolyn herself had never heard the words anorexia or bulimia.
Finally, she realized in college that the “dieting” was in control of her and that she was no longer in control of it. Carolyn tried seeking help at her college counseling center, but the therapist had never seen or heard of an eating disorder. The therapist suggested she eat by herself if she felt uncomfortable eating around others!
Sadly, Carolyn found this only exacerbated her problem. She had to struggle with her eating disorder alone and figure it out for herself, as so few resources were available at that time. Carolyn credits trying to understand her own battle with anorexia for developing much of her insight and success as a therapist.
Carolyn believes people can become fully recovered; where food and weight take a proper perspective in the individual’s life. She does not believe one has to deal with it forever, like the “once an alcoholic always one” addiction model.
After graduating college, she became a school teacher, and gained about 10 pounds. At this point in her recovery, she realized that there were two parts of her, the rational and educated side vs. the irrational, eating disordered side.
A defining moment occurred while driving to a Christmas party, where Carolyn had promised herself she wound not eat any cookies at the party. But, the healthier side of her said, “You know, if you really want to show that you have will power, then go in and eat something, eat a cookie.
That takes willpower. ” Hence, she began differentiating her healthy self vs. her eating disordered self. She realized she was not going to want to gain weight or like it-as she tells others with anorexia to this day. Carolyn, at times, felt afraid when her weight went up, like she was losing herself.
She knew inherently to argue with her eating disordered self when fears of weight gain came up. She also knew to take it slowly, and gave herself permission to adjust to the 10 pound weight gain for some time.
She realized then and now that it cam be traumatizing to gain weight too quickly.Carolyn continued to teach junior high and high school over the next eight years. She found the distraction of being involved in a career she loved and was devoted to, helpful in her recovery.
Also, she found that falling in love and a relationship further helped her to recover. She still did not like her body more when she gained weight, but chose to accept this as part of her recovery process.After her own struggle with an eating disorder, Carolyn decided to also work as a high school counselor. She went back to school and became a licensed therapist while continuing to teach. She left teaching in 1984 and went into private practice.
She also ran a few hospital eating disorder treatment centers. Sometimes, she saw as many as 58 clients a week! She did this while also running two eating disorder support groups. She developed a wealth of knowledge and experience in treating eating disorders.
Eventually, Carolyn decided she did not want to be in a hospital environment any longer. She wanted to offer treatment in a home-like setting. She had observed that individuals with eating disorders are often disconnected from soul and nature and thought a beautiful environment, in nature, along with cognitive behavior therapy, medication and group therapy would be an ideal treatment center.
She then opened Monte Nido, which has been thriving for 12 yrs now, and also ran her private practice for an additional eight years.
Recently, she opened Monte Nido Vista, a few miles away from the original Monte Nido, in order to accommodate the ever increasing waiting list to get into a Monte Nido program. Carolyn also opened The Eating Disorder Center of California in Brentwood California, where adolescents and adults, males and females, can get more intensive treatment than out patient therapy but not twenty-four hour care.
The EDCC has been open approximately six years. She released two books in 1996 and opened Monte Nido. In 2006, Carolyn opened Rain Rock, a treatment center for eating disorders in Oregon.
Carolyn now spends her time directing her eating disorder treatment centers, speaking and contributing to multiple organization and conferences that support eating disorder treatment and prevention.
She is a board member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, a board member of Dads and Daughter and a fellow of the Academy of Eating Disorders. Her recently updated and rewritten book, The Eating Disorders Source book and her book 100 Questions and Answers about Eating Disorders can both be found in bookstores nationally.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 5th, 2014
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com