Today we’d like to introduce you to Beth Mayer.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to enter the field of social work. After struggling with an eating disorder throughout both high school and college, I sought professional support shortly after graduating from Quinnipiac University with a B.S. in Clinical Psychology. When I finally got the help that I needed and recovered, I realized that recovery is possible and wanted to help others feel the same.
Jump ahead a few years – in 1983, I graduated with a Master of Social Work Degree from Boston College. Wondering about what to do next, after having secured a full-time position working with homeless people, I by chance saw a tiny ad in the local paper looking for people to run groups for folks that were struggling with eating disorders. I had loved running groups while in graduate school, so thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity. After applying and being accepted, I started my first part-time job at Anorexia, Bulimia, Care (ABC). At the time, I didn’t know it, but my career as a clinician in the eating disorder field had begun.
I ended up working at ABC part-time for many years and worked my way up to become a supervisor. In my years there, I met Rebecca (Becky) Manley, who was a group leader at the time. After ABC closed, Becky founded a community nonprofit organization called The Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA). She has been the driving force behind this wonderful organization. I stayed in touch with Becky who initially asked me to volunteer as a board member and then recruited me to work at MEDA. I have worked at MEDA for the past 17 years while also having a small private practice.
I would never have imagined that 35 years later those struggling with eating disorders would be the population that I dedicated my life’s work too. Yet, here I am today. I am so grateful for the lives who I have touched and who have touched me. The eating disorder community has been, and will always be, my family.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest struggle in my career was when my kids were young and I was managing to be a mom while working a full-time job. For many years, I always felt like I should either be home with my kids more or working more. Nothing felt enough. Self-care has been critical and a priority for me. I always make time to move my body. Juggling work, being a mom, and physical activity frequently resulted in missing fun times with friends and family. Many people say I work hard and I play hard. I don’t need a lot of “down time” for myself and I love being there for others. This fills my soul and I am happiest helping people.
Another challenge was 6 years ago my husband had a life-threatening accident that left him unable to work. I have since worked 2 full-time jobs while tending to both him and myself. I think that I have done well, however, am ready for some more “me” and “family and friend” time. I, therefore, as of August 17, 2018, stepped down from my role as Executive Director at MEDA to focus on my private practice and some other volunteer work.
My advice for anyone starting a career as a social worker, mental health counselor, or a related field, is to practice what you preach. I cannot expect anything from my clients that I cannot expect of myself. If you teach mindfulness techniques, then you need to do it yourself. If you are helping people to learn to eat mindfully, you need to make sure that you are practicing this too. It is not easy, but it is important.
I also encourage everyone who is just beginning their journey to love the work that they do. Take risks to find out what makes you happy. It will be worth it. I look back at every year of my career with gratitude. Gratitude for the amazing staff I have met, the clients who have entered my life, and the other folks I have had the opportunity to interact with through my career.
Please tell us about The Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA).
MEDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and disordered eating. Our mission is to HEAL, EDUCATE and EMPOWER our community to support the people, families and other community members impacted by eating disorders, to stop the spread of eating disorders through educational awareness and early detection, and to promote greater acceptance of all body types. We envision a community without eating disorders that promotes a positive body culture. Further information about MEDA and services provided can be found on our website: www.medainc.org.
Who have you been inspired by?
My mentors have been Patricia Warner and Becky Manley. They have been two people who have dedicated their lives to helping people recover from eating disorders and have done volunteer work for decades. I connected with both of them through my work. MEDA is an amazing organization that was started by this one woman who had a dream – to stop the spread of this horrible illness. I am forever grateful to them for helping me to be able to pursue my dreams.
- Private Practice-$200 per session
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- Phone: 617-558-1881
- Website: www.medainc.org