In the beginning...
In her early twenties, Carolyn recovered from anorexia nervosa, earned two
masters degrees, became a teacher and began her career as a psychotherapist.
After treating her ﬁrst eating disorder client in 1979, Carolyn recognized it
was her calling. Her successful treatment of those with eating disorders led her
to bring her philosophy to the public through her speaking, her books and in 1996 the
founding of the first eating disorder residential treatment center, in the U.S., Monte Nido.
Carolyn now runs the The Carolyn Costin Institute, which provides continuing education for professionals and offers the first program dedicated to training, supervising and certifying eating disorder recovery coaches.
I have used the term "recovered" and spent my entire career as an eating disorder therapist defending it... i.e., working hard to establish a consensus in our field that indeed a person who suffers from an eating disorder can become fully recovered.
Since the field does not have a definition for this term I decided to come up with my own which was first published in my book, 100 Questions and Answers About Eating Disorders and then in 8 Keys To Recovery From an Eating Disorder:
"Being recovered is when the person can accept his or her natural body size and shape
and no longer has a self destructive or unnatural relationship with food or exercise.
When you are recovered, food and weight take a proper perspective in your life
and what you weigh is not more important than who you are,
in fact, actual numbers are of little or no importance at all.
When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul
to look a certain way, wear a certain size or reach a certain number on a scale.
When you are recovered, you do not use eating disorder behaviors to deal with, distract from,or cope with other problems."
How clients and clinicians view the disorder and the end goal of treatment can affect, not only the nature of the treatment, but the actual outcome itself.
If both believe that those suffering from eating disorders can be fully recovered, this will help them pursue "being recovered" as an end goal, not settling for less or ending treatment before this is accomplished.
Clients find much needed motivation and hope when they see clinicians who were once seriously ill and now recovered and at peace with food and their bodies.
Carolyn literally had a dream in the 1980's about an eating disorder program she had created in a beautiful mountain setting. In 1996, ten years later, Carolyn's dream became a reality when she walked onto property near Malibu, California known as Monte Nido. Carolyn recognized the property and the house from her dream and knew she was
destined to turn it into the first licensed, eating disorder residential program in a home setting.
Known for bringing "Care of the Soul" to her treatment philosophy and work settings, Carolyn was the first to combine eastern healing modalities, such as yoga and meditation to state of the art eating disorder treatment.
Carolyn was also the first to openly hire recovered therapists, have staff and clients eat meals together like a family, and provide a unique level system where clients shopped and cooked for themselves prior to discharge.
Carolyn's humanistic, relational, approach, and her successful strategies on what it takes to be recovered, delineated in her books, combined with Monte Nido's highly successful outcome study (www.montenido.com) spurred the growth of Monte Nido, under her leadership, into 14 facilities offering a continuum of care, including another first; transitional living.
Since leaving Monte Nido & Affiliates in early 2016 Carolyn has remained very active in the eating disorder field. In addition to maintaining her private practice, Community Counseling, Carolyn is a highly sought-after speaker who shares her wisdom and expertise with professionals and the public through worldwide speaking engagements.
Outside of her work with Monte Nido, a large percentage of Carolyn’s career has been lecturing, training, teaching and supervising clinicians, dietitians and physicians. Many regularly attend a monthly study group for professionals that Carolyn started in the mid 1980’s. Carolyn also offers continuing education courses through the national Board of Certified Counselors and the California Marriage and Family Therapy association.
Carolyn is involved in several professional eating disorder organizations including The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) as a board trustee and the Academy of Eating Disorders, (AED) as a Fellow. Her advocacy work continues in many arenas including organizations such as Project Heal, Eating Disorder Hope and The Eating Disorder Coalition.
In early 2017, Carolyn opened The Carolyn Costin Institute, which offers Eating Disorder Coach Training, a Mentor program, Continuing Education for clinicians as well as other specialized training.