Podcast 79 | Self Image, Eating Issues, and Cancer an Interview with Tamara Duarte

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Today’s Private Practice Podcast Sponsor

If you want to build your strength and endurance, you can do repetitive physical exercises like running or walking. Similarly, to improve a specific cognitive skill like attention, you can perform a repetitive mental exercise and reap the benefits over time.

Muse is the mental equivalent of a treadmill, which helps you exercise your brain with focused attention training. It improves your attention by training you to become aware of your distractions quicker and react faster to regain focus on what you’re doing.

Here’s my unboxing of the Muse:


What you will discover in this podcast

2:06 The thing I said to Tamara that I have told no one else

6:13 The reason behind Tamara’s burning inside of her

15:03 How to work with people that have body shame

18:47 How to grow a private practice

28:02 What Tamara second guessed after her cancer

32:34 The amazing opportunity Tamara had from the president of ACA

Resources Mentioned: 

ZynnyMe Business School Bootcamp

PoP Culture Meet Tamara Duarte

Tamara Duarte PictureTamara Duarte is a counselor, author, speaker, and activist. Her private practice, Get Centered Counseling in Vancouver WA, helps women with food and body issues learn to love themselves, their body, their life, and their relationships. Her life’s work is steeped in personal experience, having fifteen years in recovery for anorexia, in addition to being a breast cancer survivor. An up and coming force in the counseling community, Tamara has been published in a textbook called Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions, and has sat on a panel at the American Counseling Association Conference, where she spoke to her peers on strategies and tools to use with clients struggling with eating disorders. Having a deep, personal understanding of what it takes to recover from this condition, she seeks to be an example to those she treats, to let them know that recovery is possible. Currently developing a podcast which addresses the cultural issues that promote body shame, self-esteem issues and eating disorders, Tamara lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband and best friend, Adam, enjoying life to the fullest with their two beautiful children, Jacob and Chloe.


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Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

Joe Sanok is an ambitious results expert. He is a private practice business consultant and counselor that helps small businesses and counselors in private practice to increase revenue and have more fun! He helps owners with website design, vision, growth, and using their time to create income through being a private practice consultant.

Joe was frustrated with his lack of business and marketing skills when he left graduate school. He loved helping people through counseling, but felt that often people couldn’t find him. Over the past few years he has grown his skills, income, and ability to lead others, while still maintaining an active private practice in Traverse City, MI.

To link to Joe’s Google+ .

Here is the Transcription of This Podcast

Self Image Eating Issues and Cancer An Interview with Tamara Duarte

This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, Session 79. I’m Joe Sanok, your host. Well, welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve a new sponsor, Muse, who last session, I talked a little bit about and there is just such a cool thing. It’s this headband that does mind-reading. No. It reads your brain waves and can look at how much ups and downs there are in your brain waves and they have this app that goes with it and they’re actually going to be releasing some different types of app games to help you just be able to just kind of control your brain waves better and help you meditate and relax and turn your brain off like I just have such a hard time turning my brain off and I’ve been using with clients.

I think one thing to remember is have a whole bunch of those little alcohol wipes they use in doctor’s offices just so you can quickly clean it before and after your clients use it. But it’s just super cool but teenagers, in particular, just love the technology. So, you can check it out at choosemuse.com and they will tell you all about Choose Muse. I also on the — our YouTube channel, that’s just YouTube.com/practiceofthepractice. I’ve been unboxing. So, you can actually see what it looks like coming out of the box. It was when I was opening it.

So, today, oh my gosh. Tamar Duarte, who I’m interviewing today, I didn’t know how cool she was until I really started interviewing her. Kelly and Miranda from Zynnyme had introduced me to her at ACA. She was just about to start their Business School Bootcamp and when I sat down with Tamara, at the end of it, I turned it off. I maybe even said it in the interview that she has to start a podcast.

The thing I said to Tamara that I have told no one else

There are very few people that when I interview them — actually I think she’s the first that I ever have said the world will be a worse place if you don’t start a podcast because what Tamara reveals in this about her own health struggles which she reveals about eating issues and women and self-image and oh, it’s just — it blew my mind just how just she just frames everything so well.

She has a practice called Get Centered Counseling and you can go to getcenteredcounseling.com to hear more about it and she graduated with her master’s degree from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi campus and she’s just an awesome person. I just can’t wait for you guys to meet her and support her work.

So without any further ado, I give you Tamara Duarte.

Joe Sanok: Well, Tamara Duarte, from getcenteredcounseling.com, welcome to the show.

TD: Thank you, very much. Thanks for having me.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. I was so impressed. I just met Tamara just like probably half an hour ago?

TD: Yeah, maybe.

Joe Sanok: I was eating my lunch with Miranda and Kelly and Tamara was like pitching Miranda and Kelly this Business School Bootcamp, the people are coming up and it was like she like one of the tribe right away.

TD: I’m a [3:14]

Joe Sanok: It was awesome to see and you were just putting yourself out there. So we got to talking and she has quite the expertise in regards to just self-image and all sorts of things we’re going to talk about and you have a new private practice. Tell me how you got interested in like what’s your story about self-image and like tell us why that became your niche that you went into.

TD: Sure. Eating disorder is my definite niche so working with women who have food and body issues and helping them to learn to love their bodies, love their life, love relationships and really get reconnected back into the things that make us human, you know.

I got into it. I really don’t think I had a choice to go any other way. This is just every time I thought maybe I’ll do marriage and family, I’d get pulled back into this. Gosh there are so many things going on in the world that are just really reinforcing this eating disorder epidemic that I’m seeing. There’s so many of the Dultra-thin models and this idea of health and thinness and everything just reinforcing it and so I just kept getting drawn back and I have a history of an eating disorder. I’ve been recovered for about 15 years and so I just feel like I can relate to my clients on a really intense level because we when they say I look in the mirror and I hate myself, I remember that. I remember being then I get that.

Joe Sanok: So, what helped pull you out of that? I mean, like whatever you took on we’re talking about or like what helped pull you out? Because that’s tough to pull out of.

TD: It is. It is tough to pull out of and it took a long time. You know, I went to treatment centers, and I went to hospitals and I did all kinds of things and I wish that I could tell you just one thing that made a difference. I think it was just this — I think it was everything. I had an incredibly supportive family that they were exhausted and tired and frustrated and sad throughout this whole process. I can’t imagine — I try to imagine but it’s hard what they went through. But they were incredibly supportive and loved me and tried to work very hard with me and so that was great.

I had a lot of therapists, a lot of therapists that tried really hard. But I think in the end what worked for was I needed structure and I needed to learn who I was as an individual outside of my family and what I felt like they wanted me to be. And I needed to learn who I was as an individual outside this societal ideal that I was supposed to be, women should be this.

The reason behind Tamara’s burning inside of her

TD: I had this expectation I should be good and quiet and sweet and small and there is just this burning inside of me of what, who am I? What am I? I was a bit of a nomad for a while trying to find myself.

Joe Sanok: Did you travel?

TD: I did.

Joe Sanok: Where’d you go?

TD: So, I lived in Vermont for a little bit. I originate from San Francisco. I lived in Vermont. I’ve lived in Arizona, I ended up in Chicago and then in — where is after Chicago? Oh, Norfolk, Virginia and then I ended up in Corpus Christi, Texas. That’s where I went to school, met my husband, just that’s where life really started for me. Had my first —

Joe Sanok: So, while you were traveling like that were you still dealing with eating issues?

TD: For most of it, yes. For most of it up until I’d started my recovery somewhere around moving to Chicago and then Virginia. Really, I think — I really think recovery came for me in a different way when I kind of had the shaky recovery and then I had my son and I think life refocused. And my values got different and yeah.

Joe Sanok: So when therapists are working with families that are dealing with some of the eating issues like I mean, I know that when I’ve worked with families whether it’s eating issues or kind of failure to launch or any of those like you know, 18 to 20-something-year-old kids that are off-track in some ways.

TD: Sure.

Joe Sanok: Like your family was really supportive but for a lot of families it’s hard to just be supportive. They’re like, “Well, what if she goes over the edge?” Like, “What if she kills herself?” How do you work with families that are dealing with that as like parents?

TD: Gosh, it’s so hard and yes, my family was supportive but don’t mistake that for being that they didn’t have these times of “I can’t do this, Tamara. I can’t sit here and watch you do this.” It was difficult on their marriages and so they were supportive but they’re human, right?

Joe Sanok: Yeah. Like being the father of two daughters, like I’m just like, “I don’t know what I would do.”

TD: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: And I’m a therapist.

TD: Well, and I went through it and I specialize it and I’m a therapist and I look at my kids and I get really scared.

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: What would I do if my kids refused to eat? Or what would I do if my kids were throwing up after every meal? Or eating because they felt out of control in every other way in their life and when they ate, that was the only time that they felt centered to the ground because food does that. Right? And so it does kind of give us this calm, centering thing and that’s okay.

So, what would I do with families or what do I do with families? I think the first thing that I do with families is help them remember that they didn’t — there was no one thing that they could have done differently that would have changed this.

So parents often come into my office saying, “What did I do wrong? What could I have done? Oh, there is this one time when I told her that shouldn’t eat that because it was too much cake or because blah, blah, blah. And so I really liked to remind the parents and help them understand that this is a biological psychological you know, all that thing that as therapists biopscychosocial familial model and that there were — not one thing could have changed that and then I like to help them set up boundaries because they can’t be there all the time. They can’t be the treatment center and be the mom or the dad and so they need to have what’s — how far are they willing to go in this before they say you have to get treatment or else… What are they comfortable living with? Because this is a potentially life-threatening illness. It is the number one — has the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness, eating disorders, do.

Joe Sanok: So sort of that question of like how will you know when it’s time to fill in the blank. Like go to treatment, go to a therapist, go to like whatever time to that’s — kind of a like red flag question.

TD: Yeah. So, when is it a red a flag? Well, I think like with any other mental illness, when it starts to impede upon your life, this is an issue. So, if your relationships are suffering because you’re so focused on you know, I can’t be around people because I don’t want them to see me eat. Or I can’t be around people because they’re always wanting to eat and I can’t or you know, I’m not engaging in these activities because I have to go to the gym and work out. I have to do this. Well, this has become an issue that it’s now causing problems on a greater scale.

Joe Sanok: Sure.

TD: This is now no longer I’m trying to be healthy. This has now become an obsession and this is now disordered and this needs help. This gets really shaky with our society going back to what I was saying before because we talk about how Paleo is great or vegetarian is great or you know, and this is the best lifestyle is if you’re Paleo.

Joe Sanok: Deep-fried is great.

TD: Right.

Joe Sanok: Deep-fried bacon, I’ll take it any day.

TD: Deep-fried bacon can be very good.

Joe Sanok: Quick side note.

TD: Yes.

Joe Sanok: I was in New Orleans and had alligator that was wrapped in bacon and [? 11:34] and deep-fried and it sounds —

TD: The alligator that sounds scary.

Joe Sanok: Oh, no. It’s like shrimp and chicken had a baby. And it was like —

TD: Really?

Joe Sanok: Amazing.

TD: Shrimp and chicken had a baby. That’s funny.

Joe Sanok: Anyway, so you got to talk about food.

TD: I mean, yeah. We can. They can in our house. It’s such a big — that’s a winner.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: So, yeah. I think oh I lost my trend of thought.

Joe Sanok: That’s okay.

TD: Because I was thinking of about alligators. Yeah, that was really good.

Joe Sanok: Well, it’s just society and Paleo diets.

TD: And also we talk a lot in our society about working out all the time. Right? We say — we use this word healthy. But when we’re using it, we’re talking about thin.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: If you hear people say, “I want to be healthier”, that means I want to be thinner. So, there’s this expectation that if you’re in a bigger body, you’re not healthy. And that gets very dangerous. It gets very dangerous and it causes eating disorders all over on the spectrum from restriction to overeating and so —

Joe Sanok: And every January we hear that, the New Year.

TD: Yes.

Joe Sanok: Like it’s nothing like, I mean —

TD: And you go in and it says get healthy in —

Joe Sanok: Lose 20 pounds.

TD: Yes. I have a lot of energy around beginning of the year and also around swimsuit season.

Joe Sanok: You need to do your own — oh yeah.

TD: Everyone’s going to swimsuit season. There’s all talk about get to ready to wear a bikini and I love there’s this — I’ve seen this thing where it says, “Do you know what the bikini body looks like? It looks like a body that’s wearing a bikini.”

Joe Sanok: Yeah.                   

TD: You know, I don’t have to have a certain body to wear it. I can wear a bikini if I want to and I don’t have to if I don’t want to.   

Joe Sanok: So much of that marketing taps into just our insecurities and like you don’t want to be that bad.

TD: It does. 

Joe Sanok: Do you?

TD: No. I mean, the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They make money on reminding us that we’re not thin enough, good enough. And I’m doing air quotes because and you can’t see this but I’m doing air quotes.

Joe Sanok: She is.  

TD: I’m doing air quotes because there’s not any one body that’s going to make you good enough or better or whatever.

Joe Sanok: Well and do you see that in your clients that it’s like even if they do get to their “ideal weight” that they still feel fat?

TD: Well, of course because then the underlying problems are still there.

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: You know the underlying problems of feeling out of control, of feeling less than, of needing connection and relationships — these things that they’re unable to get that that’s still there. So when they get to their weight that they thought was the ideal, they’re unable to see it because now, the eating disorder self that part of them that has become completely disordered has gotten so big that it reminds them that, “Oh, wait. No, you’re not good enough because this is there and this is there. So keep going.” And when you get thinner, you know that’s what the eating disorder tells us.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: When you thinner, you’ll be better. When you get thinner you’ll be accepted. When you get thinner, you’ll find a husband or a wife or whatever.”  

Joe Sanok: Right. So, when people that are interested in like working with people with eating disorders, so like what are some resources you can point them to to start exploring if that would [? 14:28]

How to work with people that have body shame

TD: Oh, gosh. Okay. So, I would say to go to the National Eating Disorder Association which is neda.com. I would say to check out the binge eating disorder association which is beda.com. There’s a great, great facility. I don’t know what to call them, agency in Portland, Oregon. It’s called Be Nourished and so it is benourished.com and it’s run by two friends of mine. So, it’s Hilary and Dana that run it and they are doing some amazing work with changing the way that we work with people that have so much body shame and they’re really instead of — so about 70% of people that go in saying, “I hate my body” and they go therapy saying, “I hate my body and I hate myself and I’m so depressed”, 70% of the interventions are about weight loss, are telling people how to lose weight, behavioral changes. Eat less. Exercise more. And what Hilary and Dana Be Nourished are doing are really shifting that. You know, let’s learn how to live life off [15:37] without body shame and love ourselves and realize that losing that weight is not getting make it better and 95% of the time, it doesn’t work out and they end up gaining more weight and so anyway I would say check out those.            

Joe Sanok: How do you balance like —

TD: There’s so much to say.

Joe Sanok: I know. I know this could be like three-hour podcast.

TD: How do I squeeze this in?

Joe Sanok: I know.

TD: I’m on I’m on my soap box right now.

Joe Sanok: I know that’s why —

TD: I’m powered up.

Joe Sanok: You have to if you have to do a podcast. You have to select to do your own podcast.

TD: Okay. Go.  

Joe Sanok: So, how do balance like there are people that the size of like how big health-wise the doctor would say, “You have to lose weight” and there’s that societal-like you know, obesity is going up and the —

TD: Oh don’t get my story, because no it’s not but okay. 

Joe Sanok: Oh, no. You can correct me then because I’m uneducated then.

TD: No.

Joe Sanok: I hear that obesity is going up and our kids are obese —

TD: Yes. That’s what we hear because — sorry. We hear that because the people that are putting out these studies are the diet industry. That’s just putting now that the industry that’s making money off of the obese because of that and you know, and all the medications that are supposed to help us lose weight and what I would say is that there a lot of people again, not everybody who’s overweight has or gets diabetes. Not everybody that’s overweight has this blood pressure issue and so oftentimes, so many times, my clients in bigger bodies go to the doctor and they get their results back and everything looks great. As a matter of fact, sometimes everything looks better than my numbers, that come back and they still get the weight loss talk. They still get to talk about how for safety’s sake and medical sake they should lose weight.

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: Because there’s this stigma that fear in a bigger body, you’re not good enough and it’s so sad when the doctors says everything looks wonderful but you should still lose weight. And so, now I’m not saying that some people go to the doctor in a bigger body and they do have those numbers often should make adjustments, you know. But very rarely will a person in extremely smaller body go in and come up with bad numbers and the doctor will have a talk about gaining weight.

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: And so, there needs to be a shift in the talk and the obesity thing we’re talking about a BMI number, which by the way, the BMI was created to use for societies like for huge massive amounts of people not to use on one single person and that’s so the number — it gets skewed.

Joe Sanok: You’re all —

TD: I am going to jump on a soap box and we’re going to go crazy here and I shouldn’t.    

Joe Sanok: No, that’s good. That’s why you’re really passionate about this.

TD: Yeah.   

Joe Sanok: In any of it I’m not an expert in at all. So, you just opened a private practice. I want to like hear about like the process of opening it, any things that you are like, “Man, I should have done this sooner or I shouldn’t have done this.” Like there are a lot of people that listen that are like brand new to having a private practice.

TD: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: Or want to open one soon. What advice do you have for people that are like at infancy stage either considering or have just launched a private practice?

How to grow a private practice

TD: I’m totally psyched about my private practice. It’s in Vancouver, Washington. It’s right next to Portland, Oregon so that it just — it’s a beautiful place to live and I’m in this gorgeous building and what would I suggest? One of the first things that I did was I created a website. I had a niche so that was really great for me because I knew that eating disorders was my niche. I think having a niche is a wonderful thing and I have that.

I jumped into this private practice and I made these business cards and I made this website. One thing I didn’t know was really what to put on my website or how to market myself. I was networking a lot but I was networking with people that were other eating disorder counselors because that’s who I knew and so I had referrals from them but not a lot because they need the clients.

One thing I would suggest is I would suggest getting in touch with either at this stage if you’ve already opened or right before, I would suggest talking to somebody that is a consultant that can help you get to the next level that can help you with what you need to know to have a successful practice. So, for me, I was in practice about a month and a half and then I heard about Zynnyme and so I got connected with Kelly and Miranda and I started going on and taking their online courses and then I got the 30-minute phone consult with Miranda and she opened my eyes. She was so amazing. She went on my website and she’s like so, you tell me you’re an eating disorder specialist but I go on your website and I don’t believe you because the word eating disorder is like on there twice. And I went… and she was [20:25]

So, this is what you need to do. You know you need to create a page, you need to talk like this and so that was amazing and so I signed up for their Bootcamp.

Joe Sanok: Wow, cool.

TD: By the way, which starts in two weeks because I’m ready to learn even more and so I would suggest getting with somebody who knows the ropes and what you need in order to network yourself and get on the referral list and look like the professional that you want to be.

Joe Sanok: So, it sounded like there was a lot of stuff that you were able to do on your own. So getting the website going just kind of basics for that. At some point you realized like I want to grow quickly. If I want to really like do this right the first time right away you invited them in as consultants.

TD: I did and one of the big reasons I wanted to do that was because I do have all of this passion. I’ve all of this and (cross-talk)

Joe Sanok: I see that.

TD: I know and I’m like vibrating. My chest I feel sometimes like I’m literally going to explode because I have such a passion to get out there and get this message out and change the way that we talk and have wanted there to be less eating disorders so I want to make a difference.

And so I was looking for how do I get my name out there and how do I reach these people to let them know that I care and then I want to make a change. And so, yes. That’s why I went searching for help me. Help me. How do I do this next step? And I found them and it just worked. And then they met you. Yeah.     

Joe Sanok: Well, I think that’s one thing about consulting that’s really interesting that I didn’t think about when I started doing consulting is how your influence then grows with the influence that you have with other people. So, it’s like by me interviewing you, it’s giving them more value for theirs because you’ll get exposure you didn’t expect to get or like you know, this lady Dana who does consulting with me came out and hang out with us last night and like she didn’t know Miranda and Kelly but she wanted to meet them. And then like wanted to meet Roy Huggins and so it’s like (cross-talk)

TD: I met him last night. That was super exciting.   

Joe Sanok: Yeah. And so like we all just like hang out and it’s like we’re all these people but sometimes figure how you get into those social circles and not that you’re like buying a ticket into like Joe Sanok’s social circle.

TD: No. Right.

Joe Sanok: It just naturally happens.  

TD: But that was exciting meeting you and we were just standing there.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: And oh by the way, do you know who this is? Oh, my gosh. Yes.

Joe Sanok: She’s like really in a natural —

TD: So, I find out you’re royalty and I should get your autograph.

Joe Sanok: Oh, gosh. My wife’s going to be listening to this. She’ll be like — (cross-talk)

TD: Is she rolling her eyes? Yeah.  

Joe Sanok: She doesn’t listen to the podcast. That’s why I say so many terrible things. No, I’m just kidding.

Tell me a little bit about — because you told me that you had breast cancer.

TD: I did. 

Joe Sanok: And dealing with the self-image like I went through thyroid cancer and it’s like —

TD: You did.

Joe Sanok: Just like having my throat slit. It is just like — I mean, we’re young. You know and we have taken cancer already.

TD: I know and that readjustment at trying to get back. Who am I now?

Joe Sanok: Tell me about that process. I mean, you’re really you’re like a year out, right? Or less than a year?

TD: Yeah. I got diagnosed January 6 of last year so I actually had my bilateral mastectomy in March 6 so I just celebrated my one year from the complete cancer-free thing, Joe.

Joe Sanok: Congratulations.

TD: Yeah. But I had five surgeries last year, lumpectomy, bilateral mastectomy and three reconstructive surgeries after that, the last being December 18.

Joe Sanok: Oh, it’s super recent.

TD: Yes. Super recent. I just, three weeks ago, had the tattooing. They now can tattoo 3D nipples on you. For those of you out there that want to know about my nipples they’re tattooed and thankfully cover up the majority of the scars but sewed the body and they’re just the body images then. It’s so difficult for me because this is I believe that as counselors when you’re working with individuals with weight issues, with body image, you have to be comfortable with your body in order to do that because if I’m thinking, “Oh, I hate my size, while I’m sitting here or gosh, I wish I could lose five pounds.” Even if when I’m not sitting in session, even when I’m in session, I’m totally present but outside of session, I’m worried about how much I weigh, that is going to affect how I deal with my clients and their body image.

I really have to be centered in myself in order to do that unless cancer crap and having my — there’s a lot that happened. So, not only do I have scars across my chest and had to get used to what it’s like to be a woman without breasts and also I had a hysterectomy a few years ago. It’s kind of like this idea of am I a woman? I look like a woman on the outside but I don’t have many of the parts on the inside and so there’s been a lot of energy around that but then also the fact that I’m recovered from an eating disorder and part of the reconstruction is they suck fat out of your stomach and they inject it into your chest because stomach fat is a lot like breast fat and so it can make it look more real.

That is really [25:34] when you’ve recovered from an eating disorder and you’re comfortable with your body and then they go, “Oh, look you have fat on your stomach. We can suck it out and put in your chest.” Something happens. You know, there’s a lot of self-consciousness, there’s a lot of yeah, I’m losing fat out of my belly. I’m going to look better that you know I don’t think those thoughts. Those aren’t thoughts that I have going through my head and so there is this process that I’ve been going through of trying to readjust to who I am post-cancer and readjust to who I am with a woman that has scars and getting used to this new body. I’m doing this thing next Friday. It’s called the — it’s at this Be Nourished place in Portland I was telling you about. They do this embodied practitioner workshop and it’s really about having you get in there and learn your own biases about your own body and your own hang-ups and then trying to work through that. It’s a full day thing and you get in there like you have your hands. This is my thigh. I can feel fat here. This is my belly. These are the rules. And apparently, you get in there and you like — really it’s intense.             

Joe Sanok: Oh. It sounds like it.

TD: Especially for some of these who had body images but I think it’s wonderful for somebody who works with them and so I was telling Hilary, the woman that’s going to lead this workshop, “This is going to be interesting for me post-cancer because I don’t do a lot of touching of my chest because it’s hard for me.”   

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: It’s still so fresh and so new and so this is going to be interesting.

Joe Sanok: Well, you can do it on your own like self-care and self-awareness building because I could see having the history of an eating disorder and then having this.

TD: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: It could just be a total mental tailspin.  

TD: Sure.

Joe Sanok: If you didn’t intentionally try to do that in the same way that you know, lots of these like life tragedies just can send anyone into a mental tailspin.

TD: Yeah. And again, don’t get me wrong. I’m human. I completely de-personalized and checked out during the surgery. Last September when it was almost the fourth surgery which I thought was going to be the last surgery until I woke up from it and I realized that I needed one more.

What Tamara second guessed after her cancer

Let me be very clear that I lost my crap. And I’m putting that nicely because I don’t know what this wearing thing is on here but I lost it because it was too much and I hadn’t looked in the mirror and when I did, I hated it. I’d worked so hard to get to a place that I didn’t hate it and then all I can see was scars and all I could see was there was this thought. Is my husband going to love me? Is he going to want to touch me? And which by the way, he’s like absolutely amazing and never gave me any reason to think that.

Joe Sanok: Oh, what a great husband.

TD: But I did have the idea, it’s like… He’s incredible. But it was tough. And so yes. I’m doing this work and I think we should all do this work.    

Joe Sanok: I know like during the time that I had thyroid cancer my daughter had just had open heart surgery and my mom had cancer. It was this crazy cycle and that’s like right when I launched Practice of the Practice and I just like buried myself in it and in our marriage we got this terrible habits and it took like that next summer like we kind of came up for air, we got it like, Okay. Lucia’s all good now like it’s looking good and no one else has cancer or heart attacks. But we’re in therapy for a while like starting through that and just like doing our own self-help and you know I read this book or listened to this book called the Scream Free Marriage that is so awesome. It just was all about like owning what you want in the relationship and like if one person like tries to show he’s the dynamic like it will change the dynamic, just like a campfire. Like we change one element, it changes it.

The finger-pointing and realizing I had to take responsibility for what I wanted in the marriage and when we both did that it just like totally changed things.

TD: That’s great.    

Joe Sanok: I would be interested to go back and watch myself during part of that year and just shake my head because I mean, you just carry yourself with it.

TD: I mean, you can’t shake your head because it’s where you were and it’s what you were going through.  

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: And you probably were doing the best that you possibly could —

Joe Sanok: Sure.

TD: — with the tools that you had at that time and now that you’ve gone through this therapy and listened to this book and everything and have all these new tools, were you to have gone through that at this stage right, having all these, it might look different.

Joe Sanok: That’s true.

TD: But you guys did the best that you could.

Joe Sanok: And actually, I think that was that year really was the motivator for I got to leave my full-time job. Like I don’t want to be that busy ever again and like how do I get a long runway of both finances and the blog and the website so that like I can just do this all the time?

TD: Sure you look in. I think that’s awesome. You’re saying I love that. You know, I went through this really crappy time in my life where these three things were happening. I mean, your daughter, that’s — I can’t imagine that, having your daughter have open heart surgery. I mean, that enough would have been something to send me burying my head in the sand.     

Joe Sanok: In spite that we get to round 2 with our baby but like I feel like we’re way more healthy this time.

TD: Sure. Yeah, the toolbox is different.   

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: Absolutely but still incredibly [30:38] I think you know, you took something from that. I went through this. What did I learn from it?

Joe Sanok: Yes.

TD: That’s what I did with my eating disorder.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: Not everybody that has an eating disorder has to go and then be a therapist or specialize in it.

Joe Sanok: Right.

TD: I’m not saying that but taking these struggles and doing something with it.

Joe Sanok: And now it’s like we feel like we have a marriage that’s so much more rich. We like got through that hurricane and we still love each other immensely like more than probably ever.

TD: Yes.  

Joe Sanok: It’s like I wouldn’t anyone to have to go through that to get to this point but I’m kind of happy we went through it because now it’s all of gain.

TD: Absolutely. What you went through sucks but what you got from it is great.   

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: I think my husband and I learned something so new about him. I’ve always known that he’s a wonderful and incredible man. He’s super, super smart. He has a “1’s and 0’s” mind. He’s a computer programmer so we kind of talk a different language but he was able to use the tools that I do like these counseling tools on me in a really beautiful way. I would sit there and scream and cry. In the shower, I hate my body. This is awful. Look at the way I look. And he’d just sit there and rub my back and say, “You’re really hurting right now. You’re hurting and I love you.”

Joe Sanok: Those guys are such fixers. That’s so awesome.

TD: I know. But that’s what he would do. He would just not fix because he’d learned. You know, we’d been to marriage counseling in the past and so he had this toolbox and he used it and I learned that my husband is capable of being this different man than I thought.

Joe Sanok: That’s amazing.

TD: Yeah, but it’s cool, right?

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: You learn these things and you grow and I think that’s the great — I love being a therapist. I love seeing growth in people.

Joe Sanok: Oh, man. Well, I don’t want to like miss talking about the new book. So, Tamara, holy cow!

TD: The first book. I’m published.  

The amazing opportunity Tamara had from the president of ACA

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So, you’re a co-author of a chapter in the book, Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions.

TD: Yes. 

Joe Sanok: Your chapter is Disordered Eating.

TD: So, I’ve wrote —

Joe Sanok: Tell me about this chapter.

TD: Yeah. This is super fun. The book is actually written by the current president of the American Counseling Association, Robert Smith and he was — he’s my mentor and he was the chair of the department where I went to grad school. He could see this passion about eating disorders and I was doing all this research about eating disorders and it wasn’t going towards anything.

I was just doing it because I loved it. I was traveling around and going to eating disorder conferences before I could get CU’s just because I want to know more about it. He said, “Hey, I’m writing this new book and it’s going to be a textbook and it’s going to be really great and I want you to write the Eating Disorder Chapter. Would you do that?”

I had this total freak out moment but I said, “Yes. I absolutely will.”

Joe Sanok: Good for you.

TD: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: I love that idea of saying yes then figuring it out.

TD: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: I think more people need to do that.

TD: Right.  

Joe Sanok: But it seems like so many people are just saying, “No. I’m not good enough. I’m not (cross-talk)

TD: And I had all of those thoughts. I’m not good enough. And I can’t write —    

Joe Sanok: Yeah. But you said yes. (cross-talk)

TD: I did. I said yes and then there is a doc student named Frederica that was also at A&M and where I went to school and she was getting her PhD and she had done a lot of work in eating disorders in the treatment center and we used to talk a lot about it and so I asked her would you co-author this with me? Would you go in and like I really wanted somebody to bounce ideas off of and not feel so insecure in writing the chapter and it was exciting and made us better friends.

Joe Sanok: That’s awesome.

TD: Yeah. I came out with a really good chapter. It’s on sale now.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. Well, I’ll put it in the show notes.

TD: Oh, great.

Joe Sanok: I’ll link to it for you guys.  

TD: Great.

Joe Sanok: So, the last question I always end with is if every counselor in America were listening right now, what would you want them to know?

TD: I would want them to know that you’re all doing great in your work and helping your clients to the best of your ability and keep up what you’re doing. I would also want them to know that eating disorders are a serious potentially life-threatening issues and so if you have a client that you think has an eating disorder I would suggest sending them to a specialist, somebody who specializes in eating disorders and a dietician that specializes in eating disorders because in the same way that your general practitioner is great at helping you with a lot of things, but if you had a heart issue, you go to a cardiologist, this is the same thing.    

Joe Sanok: Or breast cancer or thyroid cancer.

TD: Or breast cancer you go to — yes. Yes, yes. Exactly. So, that’s what I would say that if you have somebody with the eating disorder consult with a specialist.   

Joe Sanok: Awesome. Well, Tamara Duarte, from getconnectedcounseling.com

TD: Get centered. That’s a good one, too.

Joe Sanok: Oh, gee.  

TD: Get Centered Counseling. That’s okay.

Joe Sanok: Get Centered.

TD: That’s okay.

Joe Sanok: So, I can’t read my own handwriting.

TD: You can’t.

Joe Sanok: Sorry.

TD: You can’t.  

Joe Sanok: Get Centered Counseling. I’ll have the link in the show notes for sure.

TD: Okay. 

Joe Sanok: To the accurate one, in Vancouver, Washington. Thanks so much for being on the show.  

TD: Thank you, so much. This is fun.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

TD: I was super scared but this is great.

Joe Sanok: Oh, totally cool.

TD: Thank you.

Joe Sanok: All right. Bye.

TD: Thank you. Bye.

Joe Sanok: I love what Tamara had to say there especially about sending someone to a specialist. What a great reminder that if you don’t have specific training for especially some of these disorders that can be life-threatening like an eating disorder, how important it is to refer out.

You know that’s sometimes hard to do especially when you’re looking at the financial side but it’s the right thing to do.

So, Tamara, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast. Also, Muse, thank you so much for being a sponsor. Again, choosemuse.com, it’s the brain sensing headband and software just super cool.

Thanks for letting me into your brain and into your ears. If you are loving this podcast, like so many of you are that are out there lifting weights while you listen or running or hanging out with your kids, please go over to iTunes and leave a review. That’ll help us rank higher and more people will be able to find us so we can continue to be the number one podcast for counselors in private practice. Have a great week and you guys are so awesome. Bye.

Special thanks to the bands Silence is Sexy and madelyniris. We really like your music.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.  This is given with the understanding that neither the host, nor publisher nor the guest is rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.