Feature Friday: Andrew Walen, Founder of The Body Image Therapy Center
In honor of June being Men’s Health Month, we wanted to shine a light on the work of someone in our community who is breaking the stigma around males with eating disorders. That is why we are excited to feature Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS on our blog this week!
Andrew Walen is the founder and Executive Director of The Body Image Therapy Center in Maryland, and Washington, DC. He also serves as the executive director for The Better Brain Center in Alexandria, VA, and the Center for Eating Disorders Management in Bedford, NH. He is a psychotherapist, author, speaker, and advocate in the eating disorders field, with particular expertise in males with eating disorders.
Mr. Walen currently serves as President of the board of directors for the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED), and is a past founding board member of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA). He has appeared on The Today Show, was featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Men’s Health, and many other national and local media outlets as an expert in the field of eating disorders and body image. In addition, he has authored numerous articles and presented workshops at national and international eating disorder conferences. His book Man Up to Eating Disorders, which is a memoir and self-help book directed at males with eating disorders, was published May 2014, and was featured in the Gurze Catalog. Mr. Walen is also a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Social Work in Nashville. He also is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and is a published singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who continues to write and perform in the metro Baltimore area.
N.A.M.E.D. is the only organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to representing and providing support to males with eating disorders. Historically, boys and men with eating disorders have received inadequate attention, research, support, and intervention. N.A.M.E.D. plays a vital role in filling this gap by offering information and resources about and support to this underrepresented population and their families and by serving as a clearinghouse for treatment providers and researchers.
Andrew was inspired to do the great work he does after his own experience with an eating disorder and feeling misunderstood. He shared in a statement about his center that he “suffered for 20 years with an eating disorder because nobody thought to ask me the right questions simply because I was a male.” At The Body Image Therapy Center, Andrew is able to help those struggling and is actively working to reach more people by expanding his center. The Body Image Therapy Center recently announced that it will be opening an eating disorder treatment program in the Station North Arts District in Baltimore City this coming July, its fourth program.
As for some words of wisdom from Andrew? We love this quote featured by Men’s Health on what he believes is important to tell kids: "It's not about beauty. It's about what makes you special — your humanity, your empathy, your kindness. These are the messages we need to give our young men, rather than 'Are you the best? Are you the strongest? Are you the fittest?' We've got to tell them that their body is their home. It's not their billboard." We couldn't agree more!