Food Allergies, Asthma, and Eczema
I specialize in helping people manage anxiety, pain, and stress, and am particularly interested in supporting those who are coping with the psycho-social impact of severe food allergies, asthma, and eczema.
As a chronic, yet largely “unseen” condition, food allergies present a unique challenge to children and teens. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), while effective for reducing anxiety, must be tailored to the concerns of children with food allergies – it needs to be offered in an integrative and nuanced way to support children and their parents. I practice from a behavioral health perspective. The connection between thoughts and feelings is central, as good decisions are more difficult when anxiety colors one’s problem solving. I recognize that developmental points (e.g., first diagnosis, early childhood, start of school, overnight camp, adolescence, college, etc.) impact treatment adherence and risks for families with food allergies.
Furthermore, the cultural implications of closely managing food and family celebrations must be considered, because some behaviors that are essential for health and survival, can cause families to feel isolated and different. Stress management practices, cognitive discrimination abilities, and a sense of community can be strengthened so that anxiety is reduced. I refer to this perspective as, “Spot and Balance.” Most importantly, families can become more resilient as they navigate their food allergy journey and craft their own narrative. Resiliency is about thriving, not just surviving. I look forward to supporting and educating families as they create a new narrative, adjust to losses, manage situations that trigger anxiety, and establish positive identities for each family member.
Food Allergy Balance
I offer convenient telehealth consultations for food allergy patients (so you don’t need to get everyone in the car after school and drive into the city) focused on creating balance and wellness. Sessions are a bit longer than traditional counseling, to allow us to explore strengths and challenges related to food allergy management. The first session is 75 minutes, allowing parents and children time to share information and articulate goals. The second meeting is 60 minutes and builds on the first conversation; we check in on progress and collaboratively create a balanced plan for next steps toward wellness. During this meeting, a tailored experiential component (such as mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation) will be practiced and recorded for the family’s ongoing use, since the more one engages in relaxation training, the easier and more effective it becomes. Some families elect to schedule a follow up session several months later, to fine tune what they’ve put into place.
Once a month, I host a multi-family group for caregivers, focused on food allergy balance and wellness -- with an emphasis on learning self-directed stress management skills. This is a fee-for-service zoom group that meets mid-day.
I have studied the psychosocial impacts of living with food allergies for years, and have helped many patients and their families reduce stress and anxiety related to food allergies and reach a sense of balance and wellness. I am a former faculty member at the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research (CFAAR) at Northwestern University. I have been a guest speaker at Lurie Children’s Hospital Food Allergy Support and Education (FASE) hosted by Dr. Sarah Boudreau-Romano, where I spoke to parents about coping with anxiety.