I had the honor of receiving this year’s UNC AED Clinician’s Scholarship and attending the International Conference on Eating Disorders in Austin, Texas this past May. This wonderful opportunity both excited and challenged me, as I knew that my experience would be an invaluable addition to my professional growth as a recreational therapist. The added appeal of the conference being held in the “live music capital of the world” soon made me realize just how rewarding this experience would be, given that music has long been a personal passion. I have regularly attended national recreational therapy conferences and have always appreciated the amazing experiences that these opportunities offer with regard to networking, connecting with old friends, exploring local venues, and most importantly, applying what I have learned on my return to work.
I soon realized that I was the only recreational therapist in attendance at AED, although I did not take an official poll. I felt very honored, and admittedly nervous, to be amongst the experts in the field. Soon I realized that this was one of those opportunities where I could really gain a greater perspective outside of my own work at UNC. I especially appreciated the opportunities that AED offered in evidenced-based current research. While learning about “The Great Myths of Popular Psychology” by Dr. Lilienfeld, I realized the importance of evidence-based best practice. I learned about the important role that information technology is playing in providing continuing support for people in recovery while attending Markus Moessner and Stephanie Bauer’s talk on “Internet-Based Interventions for Eating Disorders: From Research to Practice.” I knew upon my return to UNC that I would make a personal and professional goal to continue to stay relevant with current research, be more dutiful in reading research articles, talk with my fellow colleagues about getting involved in research, and bridge my own gap between practice and research. To put it simply, I found myself in awe of the conference offerings. It has certainly raised the professional bar for me. Wandering down 6th Street on my way back to the Hilton, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be part of this gig. And just in case you’re wondering, there is no cooler place to pick up guitar picks than Austin, Texas.
By: Rose Gray