Episode 205: Dr. Emily Wacker: Feminist Informed Protective Factors

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Today, Kathy is joined by Emily Wacker, PhD, LMFT, and they have a conversation on feminist informed protective factors for subclinical eating disorders.

Emily is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Minnesota. She holds a master’s in couple and family therapy and a doctoral degree in human development with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. Emily currently works at the Melrose Center for Eating Disorders in St. Paul, MN conducting outpatient and intensive outpatient services with adolescents, young adults and their families.

As a family therapist, her practice incorporates postmodern and systemic approaches to treating eating disorders. In line with her research, Emily believes that family and supportive relationships are the most important tools for effective treatment and long-term recovery. She highly values the client-therapist relationship and works to explore core beliefs, dominant narratives, and issues of self-worth that are sustaining the eating disorder. She is currently undergoing intensive training focused on healing relational trauma.

She is trained in family based treatment (FBT) for Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and cognitive based therapy (CBT-AR) for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). Her areas of specialty related to eating disorders include children, adolescents, young adults, parenting, identity development, LGBTQ affirmative practices and the intersection of gender and eating disorder development. Within eating disorder treatment settings, Emily has experience co-facilitating intensive outpatient programs for adolescents and adults, coordinating family programming, and leading psychoeducational groups for binge eating disorder.

Emily is also an active researcher in the field. She has published research related to family dynamics and eating disorders, as well as protective factors that promote recovery. Her dissertation research involved interviewing 18-25 year old women with subthreshold level eating disorder symptoms, to examine feminist-informed protective factors that could help mitigate development into a clinical-level eating disorder. Her research has been presented both nationally and internationally. Emily is a believer in the power of the feminine identity, and cultivating a world where gender is no longer the greatest risk factor for eating disorder development, but a source of empowerment and agency. If she could only tell her clients one thing it would be, “You deserve to be heard, you deserve to take up space.”

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