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New Online Telehealth Eating Disorder Therapy Groups Offered

Patient, Parent, and Family Consultation Services Provided

Consultation Services for  Mental Health Professionals Provided

About Abigail Natenshon
Over 45 Years of Eating Disorder Specialty Practice

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On-Site Workshops and
Training Seminars Offered for Health Professionals


Mental health agencies and organizations seeking speaking services are invited to combine the lectures described below to become half-day, full-day, or multiple-day teaching workshops that meet the unique training requirements of their professional population.
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NEW - Opening New Frontiers in the Treatment of Eating Disorders:   
The Role of the Neuroplastic Brain and Somatic Education in Healing Eating Disorders

The prefrontal cortex is the neurological center for eating disorders, obsessions, addictive disorders, and alterations of body image… a discovery that expands the breadth of possibilities for treating and healing eating disorders.  Originating in genetic clusters, clinical eating disorders fragment the core self, distorting one’s capacity to accurately perceive and experience sensation and to regulate behavior and the self.  Eating disorder practitioners need to address and heal the brain, along with the patient.


Twenty-first century brain research and neuro-imaging technology has shown that the development of the Self is an embodied process, grounded in kinesthetic experience. Somatic education practices utilize movement and sensation in conjunction with guided self-awareness, to access, integrate and heal the brain and the Self. Through movement with attention, such non-invasive, body-based interventions facilitate connections between sensory receptors embedded in the moving body (the ‘body brain’ promotes learning from the bottom up,) and those embedded in the cranial brain (the ‘mind brain’ promotes learning from the top down.)


The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education©, when used in combination with traditional forms of eating disorder treatment, enhances accurate self-awareness, coherence and reintegration of brain, self and body image…all qualities that lie at the very heart of eating disorder recovery.  By stimulating mind, brain and body connections through gentle, pleasurable patterns of movement, the Feldenkrais Method globally upgrades the quality of nervous system function and fills in the gaps in one's self image. The Method teaches its students to learn how to learn, empowering self-determination, self-regulation and self-esteem. Facilitating the creation of new neuronal pathways, its practice adds sustainability to healing changes.


This half-day or whole day educational workshop for mental health professionals is experiential and didactic. As a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, as well as an eating disorder specialist for the past 4 decades, I will facilitate a group Awareness through Movement© lesson for workshop participants, enhancing their experiential understanding and appreciation of the neuroplastic brain and how it heals, and of the relevance to eating disorder recovery of kinesthetically-based somatic education.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will better understand how the neuroplastic brain changes and heals.

  • Participants will understand the power of the brain/body connection in healing the brain and eating disordered patient.

  • Participants will experience and understand the power of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education© to reorganize the central nervous system, reintegrate the sense of Self, and sustain healing changes.

  • Practitioners will learn to use themselves in facilitating the patient’s healing by communicating with the brain in ways that supersede and augment traditional, cognitive based talk therapy.

Eating Disorders: A Treatment Apart

ED are clearly of the most misunderstood, under-diagnosed, medically and psychologically mishandled disorders; they are also the most lethal of all the mental illnesses. Though there are few specialties that challenge the mental health professional as deeply as the treatment of eating disorders, even the most highly trained and competent psychotherapists lack exposure to formal professional education and training in this field. The good news about treating eating disorders is that most generalist practitioners have acquired the skills they need to manage the complexities of these disorders. What they lack is guidance about how to use themselves to apply these skills to meet the unique demands of these disorders and their victims… when, why, and how.

This workshop, geared to psychotherapists who seek a better understanding of what sets eating disorder treatment apart from generalist practice, is highly appropriate for novice eating disorder practitioners, but also capable of deepening the level of understanding and expertise of those with experience in the specialty. The workshop provides a practicable introduction to eating disorder care, laying the foundation for practitioners to develop the confidence, personal self-awareness, and wherewithal to become action-based self-starters within a demanding treatment process, even while helping their patients to do the same. It offers an overview of the rigorous professional and personal challenges facing clinicians within this treatment field, of the diverse and unique clinical, physical, emotional, and social issues that need to be addressed, and a framework for mitigating these challenges through treatment tools and strategies, as well as a quality, therapeutic connection and facile use of the clinician's self to facilitate healing.

Workshop Objectives: Participants will

  • Recognize unique challenges presented by eating disorders which set their victims, their diagnosis, treatment and recovery apart.
  • Learn to mitigate treatment challenges through an integrative and versatile use of the therapist's self within the patient/therapist relationship.
  • Learn to recognize and utilize significant human resources in the family, the team, and in multi-leveled milieu care.

Unique Aspects of Eating Disorder Diagnosis

As the point of entry into the ED, the lives of patients and families, and the treatment and recovery processes, diagnostic assessment is the first and most critical intervention; if not executed deftly and effectively, it could potentially become the last opportunity for patient and family to avail themselves of professional care. The cause and effects of integrative eating disorders are biological, neurological, physiological, nutritional, emotional, psychological and interpersonal; all need to be assessed and addressed. By falling "between the cracks" of the specialized knowledge of physicians, psychotherapists and nutritionists, ED all too frequently remain under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed and as a result, mistreated. Clinicians need to prepare themselves to meet the challenges of managing the unique aspects of this diagnostic process.

As the pivotal entry to the start of treatment, the initial diagnostic session sets the stage for the clinician's treatment alliance with patient and family, the patient's engagement in care, and augmenting an action-based treatment plan. Assessing this most lethal of all mental health disorders might well be considered a form of crisis intervention, in which keen attention must be paid to the patient's physiological risk and medical concerns, as well as to the appropriateness of level of care. The complete diagnosis for an ED typically takes place over time, to allow for the observation of the patient's ego functioning, and capacity to accept, initiate, and tolerate preliminary behavioral changes in response to rudimentary treatment tasks. Determining Axis diagnoses and possible co-occurring conditions requires therapy "mileage" as well, along with the collaborative input of the multi-disciplinary team, including parents and families.

In light of an ever-changing emotional landscape over time, every treatment session in some sense becomes "diagnostic" in clarifying the current status of disease, as well as recovery progress. The ED clinician's assessment includes not only the extent of the patient's pathology, but his/her potential to heal, the degree and direction of previous and current progress, the breadth and depth of the patient's strengths, weaknesses and needs, and available human support resources. The most critical diagnostic assessment of all concerns the patient's capacity to make healthy attachments, as it is through the trusting therapeutic connection that the patient discovers self-trust and self-regulation, the foundation of healing.

Nuts and Bolts of Treatment Management

Though CBT has been proven to be the "best practice" for bulimia nervosa, over 90% of ED therapists report failure to conduct their ED practice according to CBT's manualized requirements. It has become clinically apparent and recently proven through evidence-based brain research and neuropsychological technology that the most effective ED solutions stem from an integrative group of skill sets including family systems theory and practice, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and relationship-based mindfulness in practice, in conjunction with and enhancing cognitive-behavioral treatment. In fact, the quality therapeutic relationship has come to be known as the most critical healing "intervention." This workshop presents an integration of treatment approaches and techniques that are capable of cracking the complex maze of intra- and inter-personal dysfunction that characterizes these disorders, of managing a uniquely resistant patient population and a typically stagnating change/recovery process. Learn effective treatment tools, mindful strategies and nuts-and-bolts practice techniques that are strength-based, outcome driven, action-focused, and intentional in meeting patients' care requirements.

Treatment challenges for ED professionals are profound, both professionally and personally. Professionally, the ED clinician, functioning as part of a multi-disciplinary team, is faced with managing a disease that wrecks havoc on the patient's internal resources and emotional resiliency so necessary to accomplishing the tasks of recovery, and leaving victims bereft of the very means to muster them. Personally, ED challenge practitioners with emotional tasks and issues which ironically parallel those of their patients, such as tolerating the same sense of the "free fall" in facing the fuzzy approximations and unpredictability that they embolden their patients to confront within the healing process. Maintaining a healing connection with the ED patient requires the professional's clear, honest, and healthy connection with his or her own self first.

Useful to novice and experienced practitioners alike, the workshop offers strategies and tips that have proved particularly effective and relevant to the practice of ED, such as providing motivational enhancement, applying Prochaska and DeClemente's "stages of change" model to resistance management, joining with the patient, meeting resistance with reflection, reframing recovery outcomes, establishing interim goals, assigning action-based "small step" behavioral tasks, etc. This course will address issues of treatment management, along with the significance of a versatile, empathic, and connected therapeutic relationship that sets this treatment specialty apart.

The Clinician's Unique Use of Self in Eating Disorder Treatment

The most lethal of all the mental health disorders, eating disorders are among the most highly misunderstood, under-diagnosed, and medically and psychologically mishandled of all the mental illnesses. This workshop highlights the unique professional challenges of treating these complex, integrative disorders that become deeply embedded within family systems. Compounding professional challenges, practitioners treating eating disorders typically find themselves confronting deep personal challenges as well, in needing to tolerate the ambiguities, unpredictability and frustrations of a treatment process that are not unlike those they embolden and entreat their patients to face and conquer in life, and throughout the recovery process. In addition, fully one third of female ED practitioners have dealt with their own personal experience of recovery from an eating disorder. Having dealt personally with an ED or not, all practitioners find themselves in continuous need of facing and dealing with uniquely poignant transference and counter-transference issues in managing these cases. Though formally untrained in this specialization, be they novices or veterans, most therapists already have the skills and capacities they need to treat ED. What they require is guidance and direction about which to use… when…why, and …how, in applying them to meet the unique requirements of this specialty. This workshop proposes to offer just that.
In mastering highly diverse treatment skills and resources, the knowledge of modalities and interventions, the pacing of treatment demands, the use of self within the multi-disciplinary treatment team and within the healing connection of the quality therapeutic relationship, ED practitioners integrate the art and the science of ED practice. In so doing, the acronym V.I.A.B.L.E. (versatile, integrative, and action-oriented, with an outcome-bias, loving nature, and educational bent) best describes the practitioner's effective qualities, intention, and foci. This workshop is packed with interesting case examples to lend understanding and relevance to nuts and bolts techniques.

Learning objectives: Practitioners will learn to

  • Recognize the unique qualities that set eating disorder practice and practitioners apart.
  • Discover the unique personal challenges required of treating professionals in the face of the unique demands of these patients, developing an awareness of one's own self and counter-transference.
  • Learn effective treatment tools, strategies and nuts-and-bolts practice techniques to use in the face of resistance, and in moving a stalled healing process forward.
  • Understand the findings of brain research which have proved the quality of the therapeutic relationship to be the most important healing intervention.

The Role of the Mindful Therapeutic Relationship in Healing the Eating Disordered Patient

A look ahead into the twenty-first century reveals the increasing potential for neuroscience, with its evidence-based revelations about brain plasticity, to impact and define the future of eating disorder treatment. Particularly significant in the treatment of disorders that disrupt the patient's relationships with self and others, new brain research has shown that the quality of the therapeutic relationship and the therapist's use of self can become the single most significant intervention in achieving successful eating disorder healing outcomes, even within the context of manualized (CBT) practice. Brain scans before and after psychotherapy show that the more successful the treatment interventions, the greater the brain changes.

Paralleling the findings of Allan Schore, quality treatment relationships based on mindfulness in practice hold the potential to create therapist/patient "right-brain to right-brain" connections or the 'meeting of the minds,' capable of enhancing the growth and development of new neuronal pathways that produce feelings of well-being and the return of self-regulation. It is within and through the empathic, mindful therapeutic connection between patient and therapist that the eating disordered patient becomes capable of enduring and sustaining positive changes that lead to the re-integration of the self; it is through the mindful connection and the trust that it inspires in the patient's self and the treatment process that the therapist successfully navigates the rigors of the interpersonal challenges that are the benchmark of eating disorder practice. This workshop describes the impact of the quality treatment relationship and the practitioner's versatile use of self in eating disorder treatment and offers specific strategies, techniques and approaches to enhance healing through the poignancy of the interpersonal dynamic between therapist and patient.

Learning objectives:
1. Participants will understand how the unity of the body (brain to brain) and mind connections contribute to eating disorder healing, both intra-personally and interpersonally.
2. Participants will understand the role of the neuro-plastic brain in creating, integrating, and ultimately sustaining a complete and sustainable eating disorder recovery.
3. The therapist will learn specific tried-and-true interactional techniques based on the therapist's versatile use of self that will foster and sustain the patient's personal growth in eating disorder recovery.


 Empowering parents to Become Eating Disorder
Recovery Advocates Through Healing Connections


By partnering with parents, professionals create healing alliances that enhance and support the recoveries of eating disordered children.  This workshop will discuss the professional’s role in mentoring parents of eating disordered children to become a proactive and integrative part of a multi-disciplinary treatment effort, healing and supporting their child through a timely and lasting recovery.

The most timely and sustained recovery outcomes occur when parents and families are encouraged to optimize healing connections with self, spouse, their recovering child, and the child's treatment team. This workshop will provide strategies for professionals to use to access and integrate the power of parents, assisting parents to access their own potential to mentor the healing process as advocates for child and treatment team. Educating and empowering parents enhances and streamlines the work of health professionals, cutting the recovery time and the cost of treatment services to eating disordered children. Click here to learn more about the role of parents in a child’s eating disorder recovery.

Learning Objectives: Professionals learn to provide parents the empowering assistance they require in their efforts to:

  • Confront their child
  • Confront disease
  • Confront recovery
  • Confront themselves and each other as parents
  • Confront the child's health professionals


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