CAPS hosts panel will feature a professional counselor from the The Renfrew Center

Liberty’s Department of Counseling and Psychological Services, alongside the Liberty Athletic Center, will host the Body Image and Disordered Eating on College Campuses event March 6. 

The talk will feature Ashley Vicari, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) from The Renfrew Center, the nation’s oldest eating disorder facility. Vicari will cover the topic of body image and disordered eating in college students. 

Students are welcomed to the event held from 5-6 p.m. in DeMoss Hall 1166.

Emily Budowanec, LPC, an eating disorder specialist from CAPS, said that eating disorders are a major issue for college students and are often overlooked or ignored. Budowanec said that disordered eating is a major cause of death in the United States, and recently, the number of men with body image issues and diagnosed eating disorders has
increased dramatically.

“This event is for everyone who has ever looked in the mirror and wished for something different, felt anxiety about eating ‘bad’ foods or used exercise or food to change their body in hopes it will make them happier,” Budowanec said.

Budowanec also said that issues revolving around body image and eating disorders have only increased as an aftermath of the pandemic. The isolation and loneliness of COVID-19 led to an increase of health issues, specifically disordered eating. 

“Eating disorders are the second leading mental health cause of death behind opioid abuse in America right now,” Budowanec said. “While the majority of student concerns do not escalate to that of life and death, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders impact a majority of college students in our country. In fact, it’s so common that many students don’t realize they could have a more comfortable and healthy awareness of themselves.”

Alongside the pandemic, Budowanec said research has found that increased body image and eating disorders have resulted from social media platforms. 

“Studies also show that Instagram and TikTok both have a negative impact on how we view ourselves and food,”
Budowanec said.

This talk is being held in hopes for informing students of the dangers and issues surrounding body dysmorphia, or body image issues, disordered eating and diet cultures. Both Budowanec and Vicari have the intention of bringing this information to light.

The CAPS department intends for this talk to bring motivation and comfort to anyone who has felt lost because of a body
issue before.

Students are encouraged to participate in questions at the end of the seminar regarding any of the topics. Budowanec and CAPS’s other eating disorder counselor Lina Ramirez will provide students in attendance with resources that Liberty offers for students struggling with body image or disorder eating issues. 

“(Both) myself and our office’s other eating disorder counselor, along with dietitians from the LAC, will also be in attendance to answer any questions students may have specific to our university context. We will also provide resources for students to utilize moving forward,” Budowanec said. 

CAPS can refer students to local eating disorder professionals who could better help in specific areas of care. Budowanec believes that it is important for students to have access to many different resources and feel safe when seeking help for various concerns, especially regarding disordered eating. 

“Our campus, as well as the Lynchburg community, are home to a variety of specialized eating disorder professionals eager to help students,” Budowanec said. “(Vicari) will also discuss resources The Renfrew Center offers, including programming specific to Christians and specific to
college students.”

Vicari will speak directly on healthy eating patterns and the line between disciplined eating and eating disorders. 

“Throughout her talk, she (Vicari) will outline body image concerns as well as the differences between healthy disciplined eating and disordered eating,” Budowanec said. “She will also provide a variety of ways in which students can feel better about themselves and lower their anxiety around eating.”

This talk has the intention of motivating students to have a good relationship with food and their bodies. CAPS encourages all students to attend, regardless of their struggle with the issue. 

For more information about this event, visit their website.

Zagursky is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

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