Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Dr. Jennie Wang-Hall. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Dr. Jennie, appreciate you joining us today. We’re complete cheeseballs and so we love asking folks to share the most heartwarming moment from their career – do you have a touching moment you can share with us?
As an eating disorder psychologist, my passion has always been building safe and warm relationships in which people can explore their minds, find their power, and experience justice in food and body. Owning my own private practice (where I provide therapy as well as training and consultation) has been an incredible experience for me. I have had the privilege of working with dozens of incredible people looking to define themselves and work through their struggles. A particularly poignant moment that has impacted me profoundly happened during a group therapy session that I ran just a few months ago. My group, Revolutionary Recovery, is focused on exploring forces of systemic oppression and how they impact relationships with food and body. During one group session, the members began to discuss antidotes to patriarchy, white supremacy, and ableism and they identified connection and collectivistic care as key to countering these structures. They discussed what connection looked like in their lives, but really beautifully discussed the way that this healing connection was happening in the room at that exact moment. They expressed compassion and kindness for each other. The members shared their gratitude for the vulnerability, strength, and power that they shared with each other.
This experience impacted me so intensely. I was able to fully experience the power of collectivistic care in that exact moment. Humans are capable of so much love and that is how we heal. People with eating disorders need connection and to be truly seen. This only happens in relationships. So in that moment it was so clear to me that my truest purpose is to create relationships where growth can happen.
Dr. Jennie, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am a passionate and dedicated psychologist and justice advocate. I have been treating eating disorders since 2011 and completed my PhD in 2017. Completing a PhD in counseling psychology helped me cultivate a lens on mental health that is focused on equity and attuned to relational dynamics. Since opening my private practice in 2018, I have provided a range of services including individual therapy, group therapy, parent coaching, training, education, and consultation. Individual therapy focuses on whatever issues feel most pertinent to the client, however most of my clients come into therapy with struggles related to eating disorders. My group work focuses on social justice and helps members integrate an understanding of systems into how they view themselves. I love providing training and education. This is probably what I am most excited about at this point in my career. I believe that I can make a significant impact on the field of mental health and eating disorders by reaching other providers who may be interested in shifting their approaches but don’t know exactly where to start.
I think what defines me as a mental health professional is a commitment to creating justice and liberation in the domains of food and body in a world that is structured around oppressive systems. Attention to power dynamics in therapy and in the world more broadly is a key component of my mission that I think makes people feel uniquely seen and held with care. I think that my work is unique in that I do not abide by manuals, protocols, etc. I lean into the therapeutic relationship and let the development of that be the guiding force in therapy.
I want clients and providers to know that I love this work. My mission of creating spaces for justice and liberation is core to who I am as a professional, but also central to who I am as a person. I want to meet people exactly where they are and empower THEM to create the life that they want for themselves. It is my privilege to be a partner in that work. I am extremely proud of the care that I provide and am so grateful to the incredible people who let me into their lives.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
A lesson that therapists are taught in grad school is that we are “the experts” on therapy and the human mind. While it is true that I spent over a decade in training and education, viewing myself as “the expert” is harmful for creating truly meaningful relationships. In therapy, it is crucial to see the client as the expert on themselves, their world view, their mind. Early in my career, I approached therapy in a hierarchical way that placed me above the client and this did not help them progress and grow. What I needed to do was empower them and hold space for them to do their own self-exploration and come into their own wisdom. Unlearning this way of thinking required true self-reflection and digging deep for humility. Doing this work has made all the difference in being able to provide truly helpful and connected care.
Other than training/knowledge, what do you think is most helpful for succeeding in your field?
The most important thing that a therapist can be is real. Therapists get in their heads so much about what modalities to use, when to deliver what intervention, how to track outcomes, etc. It isn’t that these things do not matter. However, focusing on these metrics is not what leads to real growth and healing, which is presumably the goal of most therapists. I show up in therapeutic relationships as truly myself. I share about my own identities and how they impact my worldview because this impacts the relationship and our creation of a shared understanding. We can only meet each other in intimate care when we are real, vulnerable, and true.
- Website: www.jwhrevolution.com
- Instagram: @dr.jenniewh
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-wang-hall-ph-d-69a32628/