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Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Jess Luzier discusses evidence-based treatment for eating disorders with the psychology department

The National Eating Disorder Association reports that 10-20% of female college students and 4-10% of make college students have an eating disorder.
With this alarming statistic, Wofford brought Jess Luzier, board-certified clinical psychologist and clinical director for eating disorders at the Charleston campus of West Virginia University, to Wofford’s campus to discuss evidence-based care and treatment for eating disorders.
Luzier has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and made several national conference appearances as well as being named a fellow of the American Psychological Association.
Assistant Professor of Psychology Dane Hilton invited Luzier to Wofford to give the talk to students and professors. Dane worked under her during his time pursuing a pre-doctoral internship at WVU’s School of Medicine in Charleston, WV.
“We also started working together back in 2017, and at that time on research examining ways to improve intervention of families of children with ADHD,” Hilton said.
The two are currently working on the development of a smartphone app that will hopefully increase the benefit families get from family therapies, a topic in which Luzier went into great detail on during her lecture.
During her time pursuing an undergraduate degree at Hiram College, Luzier had the opportunity to go abroad to Tanzania for a semester.
For twelve weeks, she and her colleagues ate very little as they accompanied a family from Tanzania during their homestay.
“Whatever food was not eaten at dinner was scraped onto a plate where the children in the home would eat from after us,” Luzier said.
This brief exposure to hunger shocked Luzier and her peers as they arrived back in the United States, and this experience jump-started her career in treating eating disorders for years to come.
She highlighted the importance of filtered evidence in treating eating disorders, as well as encouraging patients to understand their treatment options as they receive psychoeducation while getting treated for their specific disorders.
Many people who suffer from bulimia nervosa in Luzier’s clinic go through a thorough practice in exposure therapy to eliminate the intimidation or fear of certain foods and stimuli. Some of the clinicians even eat with the patients during their treatment to comfort them.
The practice is kept lighthearted when treating kids due to helping them be more aware of their disorder, but they are allowed to name it in order to talk about it in another context that does not harm their own personal identities.
“Some of the children picked names for their eating disorders such as E.D., Annie, etc.,” Luzier said.
For more young adult patients at Luzier’s clinic, Cognitive Based Therapies are available in order to meet the first requirement in regular pattern eating to treat various eating disorders.
“We need to be aware of the evidence and advocate for the best possible care for ourselves and those we love,” Hilton said.
If action is not taken early in a person’s life, whether it be for an adolescent or young adult, their eating disorder can be chronic and dealt with later in life. Getting treatment as early as possible is necessary for recovery.
Bella Wallace ‘26 was in attendance at the talk along with many other psychology students, staff, and others.
“I think it is important to highlight the fact that the college age is a risk factor for eating disorders,” Wallace said.
Luzier mentioned many other risk factors such as dieting, exercise, age, gender, etc.
“If you are experiencing symptoms, there are online quizzes and articles on the National Eating Disorders Association’s website, and if you have concerns about a friend there is also a hotline as well, but it is needed to take action while you can,” Luzier said.
There are also resources on campus which can be found at the Wofford Wellness Center, temporarily located in the Kilgo-Clinkscales house, while the Hugh R. Black building undergoes renovation.

Gabby Gecan, staff writer

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