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Digital Seminar

Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders

Tom Wooldridge, PsyD, ABPP, CEDS-S
1 Hour 12 Minutes
Audio and Video
Nov 30, 2021
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Digital Seminar
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Psychoanalytic thinking offers valuable insights to clinicians working with eating disorders and body image concerns. In a field that increasingly emphasizes rapid symptom reduction, treatment providers risk neglecting less overt, and less easily measurable, aspects of the patient’s experience. This presentation will bring together the latest thinking about how a psychoanalytic approach can help us to understand the emotional experience of an eating disorder more deeply. As a member of a larger treatment team, the psychoanalytic psychotherapist assists the patient in contending with an internal landscape marked by isolation and loneliness as well as shame, guilt, and embarrassment, not to mention a profound hopelessness about the possibilities of emotional connection. In this presentation, we will discuss the role of the psychoanalytic thinking within a broader therapeutic approach and several common psychodynamic themes commonly observed in patients with eating disorders. 



PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This program is worth 1.25 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



Tom Wooldridge, PsyD, ABPP, CEDS-S's Profile

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Tom Wooldridge, PsyD, ABPP, CEDS-S, is Chair in the Department of Psychology at Golden Gate University as well as a psychoanalyst and board-certified, licensed psychologist. He has published journal articles and book chapters on topics such as eating disorders, masculinity, technology, and psychoanalytic treatment. His first book, Understanding Anorexia Nervosa in Males, was published by Routledge in 2016 and has been praised as "groundbreaking" and a "milestone publication in our field." His second book, Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders: When Words Fail and Bodies Speak, an edited volume in the Relational Perspectives Book Series, was published by Routledge in 2018, and has been well reviewed. His third book, Eating Disorders (New Introductions to Contemporary Psychoanalysis), will be released in 2022. In addition, Dr. Wooldridge has been interviewed by numerous media publications including, Newsweek, Slate, WebMD, and others for his work. He is on the Scientific Advisory Council of the National Eating Disorders Association, Faculty at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PIC) and the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (NCSPP), an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF's Medical School, and has a private practice in Berkeley, CA.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Tom Wooldridge maintains a private practice and has employment relationships with San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, and the Golden Gate University. He is a reviewer for Routledge, Palgrave, and Cambridge University Press. He receives royalties as a published author. Dr. Wooldridge receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Tom Wooldridge serves on the advisory council for the National Eating Disorders Association. He is a member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP). He is an Ad hoc peer reviewer for several peer review journals, for a complete list contact PESI, Inc.


  1. Appraise the role of symbolic functioning in psychological health and why facilitating this capacity in clients with eating disorders and body image concerns is an important component of treatment.
  2. Formulate case conceptualization of eating disorders and body image concerns from a psychoanalytic frame, including how object hunger and breakdowns in containment impact the client.
  3. Distinguish how body image fluctuates alongside shifts in self-states.


  • The Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist as a Member of the Larger Treatment Team 
  • Alexithymia and Deficits in Symbolic Functioning 
  • Object Relations and Traumatic Themes 
  • Self-States and Dissociation 
  • Self-States and Body Imaginings 
  • Limitations of the Research and Potential Risks 

Target Audience

  • Counselors 
  • Social Workers 
  • Psychologists 
  • Psychiatrists 
  • Marriage & Family Therapists 
  • Addiction Counselors 
  • Registered Dietitians & Dietetic Technicians 
  • Nurses 
  • Other mental health professionals

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