CEDAR RAPIDS — Brandis McFarland knows what it’s like to be a young person with an eating disorder.
“I struggled with anorexia from age 12 to 23,” McFarland said. “When I was in treatment, it seemed like eating disorders were a taboo subject. There wasn’t much understanding about them.
“It sometimes was hard even to find medical professionals who understood.”
After her recovery, McFarland, who graduated from Luther College in Decorah with degrees in psychology and biology, continued her education at the University of Iowa. She earned a master’s degree in psychiatric rehabilitation counseling and became a licensed mental health counselor.
“When I got healthy, I wanted to give back,” she said.
Today, McFarland is giving back by treating others with eating disorders. After 14 years in private practice, most recently with the Cedar Centre Psychiatric Group, she opened her own practice in January.
McFarland’s new practice is focused on the collaborative treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, as well as issues such as depression, anxiety and mood disorders that often go hand in hand with an eating disorder diagnosis.
McFarland said she always wanted to open her own practice but “was never at the right place in my life to do it.”
It took finding the perfect location for her to realize her long-term goal. Last August, she learned of an available space on the third floor of the historic Shores Building in northeast Cedar Rapids.
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“I saw the space and fell in love with it,” she said. “If it wasn’t for this space, I wouldn’t have made the move yet.”
The large, open environment appealed to McFarland because it provides a healing environment for her patients. It has ample room for group therapy sessions, space for a large dining table used for meals in family-based treatment and a separate room for guided art therapy.
McFarland said she plans to host educational events in the space to raise awareness and promote prevention of eating disorders. She noted that February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month.
Although she has been healthy for many years now, McFarland said her past struggles with an eating disorder continue to inform her practice, especially with respect to the counselor-patient relationship.
“I’m able to build patient trust because I understand what’s going on with them,” she said. “As a provider of mental health services, it’s important to be very real and authentic to your clients.”
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At a Glance
• Owner: Brandis McFarland
• Business: Brandis McFarland Mental Health Counseling
• Address: 700 16th St. NE, Suite 304, Cedar Rapids
• Phone: (319) 364-4135
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Website: www.brandismcfarland.com