Knowing from the Inside – A Consultant Interview about Anorexia

A central concept of CMHA’s Framework for Support is the role of experiential knowledge. The idea of “knowing from the inside” is held front and centre in the exploration of disordered eating, anorexia, and bulimia undertaken in this presentation. One of the featured Healthy Minds/ Healthy Campuses Community of Practice learning events of 2011 included a narrative consultant interview between therapist Stephen Madigan and documentary filmmaker Dena Ashbaugh as part of an attempt to explore anorexia from an insider perspective.

This presentation will (a) feature an excerpt from the consultant interview; (b) offer an opportunity to participate as a reflecting team member; and (c) explore how narrative ideas can be used to map anorexia from a non-individualizing and non-pathologizing perspective.

As part of Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2011, CMHA-BC, Family Services of the North Shore, and the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre brought together documentary filmmaker Dena Ashbaugh and narrative therapist Stephen Madigan to have a unique conversation about disordered eating, anorexia, and bulimia. Dena created the “insider” film “No Numbers: Identity Beyond Measure” with Sonja Ruebsaat in a collaborative effort to explore disordered eating and eating disorders from the vantage point of recovery, inspiration, hope, and possibility. This film has been screened internationally and has met with critical acclaim in response to its commitments to telling from an insider perspective. Stephen interviews Dena as a consultant about her insider knowledge in relationship to her experience of anorexia.

Attendees can expect:

  • To witness a consultant interview with Dena about disordered eating/eating disorders;
  • Participate as a reflecting team member in response to the consultant interview;
  • Explore how narrative ideas might hold promise in response to the problems of disordered eating/eating disorders.

This presentation is designed to document and make available the unique and special knowledge of Dena as a consultant insider. Please note that this is not a narrative therapy training workshop.


Jonathan has coordinated the Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses Initiative since July 2008. He has recently completed his MA in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria. He has worked in residence life, student government, and most recently has completed a clinical practicum at UVic’s Counselling Services. His current role with Healthy Minds involves coordinating a broad community of practice working toward a provincial vision of mental health and less harmful substance use on campus. Jonathan has also trained extensively with narrative therapist Stephen Madigan.