New Relational Therapy Group at UNC

From the moment we are born a central part of being human is being connected with others through our relationships. In fact, relationships with others are so important for healthy human development that infants are wired to connect with others from the day they are born. So why are relationships so important for humans?

Much of our personal growth and well-being comes directly from our close relationships with others including our friends, family, significant others and even pets. Healthy relationships allow us to be our authentic self, faults and all, safe in the knowledge that we are okay just as we are. However, our drive to be in relationships with others often collides with our insecurities. We may try to keep parts of ourselves that we most insecure about hidden from others in an attempt to appear different or better than we really are.  Paradoxically, by not sharing our true selves, we create barriers to engaging in healthy, growth-enhancing relationships.

For people with eating disorders, relationships can be particularly challenging.  The secrecy that often goes along with an eating disorder can lead to distance and disconnection in relationships. That disconnection can create additional emotional distress that pushes one further towards eating disordered thoughts and behaviors. The UNC Eating Disorders Program, in collaboration with Mary Tantillo, PhD, RN, CS, is now offering a relational therapy group for individuals with binge eating disorder.

This relational therapy group will help people identify patterns of connection and disconnection in current and past significant relationships, and understand how eating disorder behaviors are related to disconnection in relationships. Through this exploration, new strategies can be developed to help people strengthen their relationships while decreasing their eating disorder behaviors. In addition, this approach examines cultural myths about weight and dieting and identifies how to develop a healthier relationship with food. This 16 week group will meet on Wednesdays at 5:00pm and will be led by Frances Ulman, PhD and Millie Maxwell, PhD.  For more information, please contact Dr. Ulman at 966-7662 or

~Frances Ulman,  PhD