Jennifer Lombardi is a marriage and family therapist and the executive director for the Eating Recovery Center of California, based in Sacramento. She received her undergraduate degree in Government/Journalism and a Master’s in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from California State University of Sacramento.

(Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Lombardi)

(Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Lombardi)

How did you get started in your field?

“Having recovered from anorexia 17 years ago, I know first-hand that treatment options were incredibly limited. There were very few treatment centers at that time of my own personal struggle, and insurance often did not cover the cost of treatment. Fortunately, much of this has changed. We were motivated to create a program that not only provides research-based, effective treatment from a medical, nutritional and psychological standpoint, but that most importantly has the needs of the patient always in mind. Providing compassionate care is one of the most important components of our program.”

What do you think the future of your field is in Sacramento?

“Within the field of therapy in general, I think there are going to be numerous opportunities due to the diversification of health care and the increasing research and public awareness campaigns related to mental health conditions. I think it’s important for therapists to work diligently on professional development and look at opportunities to specialize in a variety of areas, from mood and trait management, as well as coordination of care with other providers such as dietitians, psychiatrists and movement therapies. With eating disorders specifically, I believe it is imperative to stay abreast of current research, particularly as it relates to medical risk and family involvement.”

What is the usefulness of re-educating a seasoned workforce?

“As a therapist, one of the key lessons we often learn in our graduate programs is to be open to the idea that you are always learning and growing. The moment you believe you’ve got everything dialed in should be a major red flag. For example, 20 years ago, in the field of eating disorders, we believed that families were the problem, and often excluded them from the entire treatment process. Fortunately, that has changed, and what we find now is that it’s not only healthier for family members to be involved, it’s better patient care. Part of this shift came through research and a willingness to look at treatment in a different way. This process has and should remain a cornerstone of therapists’ growth – it’s what we ask of our patients and we should, therefore, expect nothing less of ourselves.”

Megan Bowyer is a freelance writer in search of the best food and drinks that Sacramento has to offer. You can find her at any number of dive bars or trendy restaurants; just look for the short blonde feeding the jukebox. Her work can be found at

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