Introducing Jean Doak, Ph.D., CEED Clinical Director

by: Maureen Dymek-Valentine, PH.D.

January 15, 2020

We are pleased to introduce Dr. Jean Doak as our Clinical Director.  Dr. Doak joined the CEED faculty in October, 2017. We were so impressed with her clinical and administrative skills, that we asked to take over the Clinical Directorship of CEED within a year of her arrival!  Prior to her joining us at CEED, Dr. Doak served in clinical leadership positions at the Emily Program (formerly Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders), and in a junior faculty position at Baylor University.  Dr. Doak earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Houston, completed her psychology internship at University of Texas, Galveston Branch, and her psychology postdoctoral fellowship in adolescent medicine at Baylor University/Texas Children’s Hospital.  We asked Dr. Doak a few questions so that you could get to know her better:

What is your favorite thing about being an eating disorders clinician? I enjoy working within an interdisciplinary team including clinicians of various specialties as well as families and caregivers. It is an honor to be a part of patients’ and families’ lives during a very difficult time. The work is challenging yet humbling, and every day presents with opportunities to continue to learn, develop, and refine skills and interventions.

What is the most challenging thing about being an eating disorders clinician? The mortality rate of eating disorders continues to be unacceptably high. Despite this rate, there are fewer dollars committed and dedicated to the research and treatment of eating disorders compared to other diseases or disorders with lower mortality rates. Other challenges include limited access to care and insurance coverage. As clinicians, we are challenged with limited access to treatment at all levels of care for patients and families. Some of these limits are geographical, and many are financial.

We also understand that not everyone in North Carolina and surrounding states can come to UNC CEED for ongoing care and could benefit from having treatment closer to home. There are a limited number of community providers who specialize in eating disorders and take all forms of insurance, and we are trying to think creatively about how to bring treatment to our patients and families and/or how to make it more accessible. In North Carolina alone, there are too many patients and families who are underserved when it comes to access to the specialized treatment of eating disorders. This unacceptable. We have to do a better job advocating for patients and families! We must do a better job—it is our obligation!

If you could give your patients one piece of advice, what would it be? When going through the difficult and challenging process of treatment, it can be helpful to know and remember that recovery is possible. Research indicates recovery is possible. We as a team have seen recovery happen.

Explain your role at the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (CEED). What is a typical day like for you? The typical answer for questions like this is there is no “typical day,” right? In general, my responsibilities fall into three broad categories: clinical, administrative, and operational. On any given day, these responsibilities could be providing direct clinical service (therapy), clinical supervision and training, consultation to peers and colleagues, teaching, program development and/or expansion, translating research into clinical practice, budgeting, marketing and networking, overseeing clinical productivity, assisting with managing referrals and clinical capacity, and defining CEED’s vision.

In your role as clinical director, what vision do you have for CEED moving forward? The vision for CEED is defined collaboratively by our team and includes short- and long-term goals. The ultimate vision is to provide the highest quality, compassionate, evidence-based eating disorder treatment to our patients and families. The mission includes developing clinical training tracks that mirror our clinical services, measuring and assessing our clinical outcomes to assist with program development and improvement, expanding our program offerings to include more levels of care (currently, we offer inpatient and outpatient services), increasing our research/training/practice integration, and continuing to advocate for increased clinical and research funding and support to better serve our patients and families.

What was your dream job when you were younger? Early on, I knew I wanted to work with children and adolescents and thought about being a pediatrician. I majored in Biology and Psychology in undergrad and applied to medical school and graduate school. However, taking a Research Methods class in undergrad and watching (and repeatedly re-watching via VHS recordings) the PBS documentary series on psychology, “Discovering Psychology” presented by Philip Zimbardo, PhD, is what led me to pursue graduate school. Being a psychologist then became my dream profession. When I was very young, my “dream job” was to be a Radio City Rockette!What are your favorite things to do outside of working? Spending time with my husband and two daughters (16 and 12 years old)—watching movies, playing board games, traveling,—and working on and designing home renovations.