Dr Joanna Silver is Orri’s Lead Psychological Therapist and joins the Orri team with an abundance of knowledge and passion for eating disorders.
We sat her down to learn more about her career and interest in eating disorder treatment.
Can you take a moment to introduce yourself?
I am a Counselling Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council, and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. My passion is helping people with Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and disordered eating.
My journal articles look at the experiences of people with BDD and are published in the ‘Journal of Health Psychology’, the ‘International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice’ and ‘Social Science and Medicine’. I have written chapters on visual methods, narrative psychology and BDD in Carla Willig’s book ‘Introducing Qualitative Research in Psychology’ (third edition). On top of this, I enjoy presenting to my peers, other professionals and the media on topics including Eating Disorders, body image concerns and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
How long have you been a clinician for and what were you doing before Orri?
I have been a Counselling Psychologist for 11 years and worked as a Secondary School English Teacher prior to this. My training and experience as a teacher has been invaluable in my therapeutic work with clients and enables me to work creatively with young people and adults.
Before working at Orri, I was the Lead Therapist for Eating Disorders at Nightingale Hospital, where I worked from 2013-2021. In this role I was in charge of the therapy programme for inpatients and day patients with acute Eating Disorders.
I was responsible for assessing all patients for the group programme and conducted several therapy groups on the ward. I also treated inpatients, day patients and outpatients for individual therapy and ran a weekly Eating Disorder support group for friends and family. In this group I gave presentations on relevant topics including ‘how to communicate well with your loved one,’ ‘dealing with difficult behaviours’ and ‘practical skills for managing distress.’ The group was a safe space where attendees could share their experiences, successes, and problems.
As Orri’s Lead Psychologist, what does your role involve?
My role involves overseeing the therapy programme and making sure that it is meeting the needs of our clients. I facilitate several groups including a ‘Body Image’ group and a ‘Relationship to Food’ group and aim to provide a safe and non-judgmental space where clients can explore anything that is important to them. I work closely with the multidisciplinary team at Orri and regularly present my clients’ progress and challenges.
I see clients for individual therapy and work collaboratively to empower people to achieve their individual goals using evidence-based therapies including Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT-E) and the Maudsley Model of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults (MANTRA).
I am excited to be involved in the Carers Pathway and facilitating groups for carers as I believe that it is so important that the family and friends of our clients are involved and supported in treatment.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I feel incredibly lucky to absolutely love the job that I do. It is such an honour and privilege to be in a position to help people. The aspect of my job that I enjoy most is forming a therapeutic relationship with clients and helping them to achieve meaningful changes.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Eating disorders are very serious illnesses and it can be challenging to hear about people’s difficult experiences and feelings. This is why it is so important for therapists to engage in supervision. I always try to meet clients where they are and to offer them a non-judgmental space to explore.
What do you wish people knew about therapy/psychology?
Therapy can offer anyone a unique opportunity to get to know themselves better and look at the way that they tick. People do not need to be unwell to seek therapy or wait for things to become ‘bad enough.’ I think that choosing to see a therapist is a sign of great strength.
What do you feel is most unique about Orri?
I agree with the CQC’s rating of Orri as an outstanding treatment centre. Orri is such a fantastic, dynamic place and I love the warmth and compassion of the whole team. Clients are always actively involved in every aspect of their treatment. I totally agree with Orri’s belief that hope is always possible.
Outside of work, what do you do for your own mental wellbeing?
I adore swimming. I find the water calming and swimming allows me to completely switch off my mind and return to the day refreshed. I also love listening to music, going to the theatre and reading psychological thrillers.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“A problem shared is a problem halved.”
I believe in the value of talking and thinking about issues collaboratively with another person. A lot of problems thrive on secrecy and shame and I think that sharing can help people feel less alone, less ashamed and more understood.
Do you have a mental health hero?
Irvin Yalom is my mental health hero. He has written so much about the healing quality of the therapeutic relationship and the importance of always being honest and present with clients.
If you had one piece of advice for a therapy-seeker, what would it be?
To spend time choosing the therapist that is right for you. The therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client is absolutely vital and it is so important that you really trust your therapist.