Meet the Eating Disorder Associate: Haley Justice

Haley is one of Orri’s Eating Disorder Associates (EDAs) and has been part of the team since we reopened our in person service in April.
We sat her down to learn more about her role and interest in supporting those living with eating disorders…

How long have you been an Eating Disorder Associate (EDA) for and what were you doing before Orri?

I started at Orri in mid-April when the Hallam Street building re opened for in-person recovery treatment after the second lockdown closure.  It was a great time to start as it felt like everyone was coming in “new” and readjusting to being back at the Orri site.

Prior to working at Orri I spent the past year completing my Master of Science degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology, while working as an Associate Registered Nutritionist (ANutr) and Wellbeing Advisor in a community healthcare setting.

How would you describe your role to people outside Orri?

The EDA role feels almost like a connector piece holding a structure in place.  We wear multiple (figurative) hats within Orri.  These range from supporting clients at breaks and meal times as well as assisting therapists and nurses with various tasks, all while offering a kind and compassionate presence for clients to chat openly.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy being a familiar and consistent touch point within the clients’ days and recovery journey.  We are often one of the first people they see in the morning and the last in the evening…and many times in between.  This allows us to be a regular friendly face and listening ear to help the clients build trust and comfortability within Orri. 

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your role?

It is never easy to see someone struggling or in distress, so that is always a challenge.  That said, this is often a cornerstone of the role, so it does feel rewarding to be able to support clients in these moments.

What do you feel is most unique about Orri?

The team.  Orri has such an amazing, authentic team of professionals – each of which brings something unique to the space and are invaluable to the flexible, stepped recovery process.  Everyone at Orri truly cares about their work and the clients which creates this environment of hope.

Outside of work, what do you do for your own mental wellbeing?

I find going for a walk in the fresh air while listening to a podcast very calming.  I also enjoy being in the kitchen attempting to cook a new recipe while watching the latest Netflix saga.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

This quote is from Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who founded logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy which describes a search for life and meaning as the central human motivational force. I like this quote because it emphasises our strength and autonomy as individuals.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Do you have a mental health hero?

Working mental health, I feel like I am surrounded by mental health heroes.  All the individuals who are struggling with their mental health but continue to show up for themselves every single day.  That is the definition of bravery in this work in my opinion.

Why did you decide to work in mental health?

I came into this profession from working within sport and exercise settings where both the societal pressures and demands of performing at a high level contributed to various mental health concerns.  There were clear impacts on individuals’ quality of life and sense of fulfilment, and this motivated me to explore the importance psychological wellbeing both in athlete and general populations.

I feel the world is starting to move in the direction of placing more value on mental health and I am passionate about being a part of this initiative.

If you had one piece of advice for a therapy-seeker, what would it be?

Try it!

One of the Orri mottos is “Nothing changes if nothing changes” and I think this is such a true, and powerful statement.  I believe everyone could benefit from therapy – having a safe, and judgement-free space to explore who you are as a person and ways you can optimise your wellbeing.  We all deserve to thrive and be the protagonist in our own lives and if therapy can support that process, then why not give it a go?  It may be difficult to take that step and work towards making a change in your life, but it can be so worth it.  To end with another quote on therapy from behavioural psychologist, Sharoo Izadi:

“Change is hard, but I do difficult things.”

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