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Treatment for those struggling with eating disorders and prevention for those not yet affected.

History and Overview

The WVU Disordered Eating Center of Charleston (DECC) was launched in the summer of 2010 by Drs. Stephen Sondike and Jessica Luzier. DECC is a multidisciplinary outpatient treatment program that provides services for youth and adults with disordered eating, including clinical eating disorders. Team members include psychologists, social workers, a dietician, and physicians specializing in adolescent medicine, psychiatry, and internal medicine. The DECC team meets twice monthly to discuss the progress of individuals receiving treatment and to review current research on the treatment of disordered eating. All team members have received extensive training in assessment and intervention with disordered eating patients, and utilize journal club, conferences, and continuing education opportunities to remain current in their knowledge and skills. Between meetings team members regularly collaborate to provide the most effective, evidence-based care for patients, and collectively address complex clinical issues.


The mission of the team are two-fold: to treat patients with eating disorders, and to educate the public and prevent the onset of eating disorders in those not yet afflicted.

As outlined above, an interdisciplinary team format is used to address these highly complex disorders. Most DECC patients are treated in outpatient settings. Clinical services are provided at the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine at CAMC Memorial Hospital. DECC clinicians use a variety of modalities in their treatment, including individual and family therapy. Therapeutic approaches include Maudsley, Cognitive-Behavioral, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Medical and nutritional services are provided at either the WVU Internal Medicine Specialty Office located on MacCorkle Ave in Kanawha City, the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine, or at the CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital. Patients who are severely medically compromised may be hospitalized on medical floors at CAMC. The WVU-DECC team is exploring opportunities for inpatient psychiatric care.

Awareness and prevention are major commitments for the WVU-DECC. Eating disorders remain hidden and are often associated with misinformation and strong emotions in both those patients and their families and friends. There is an imperative to increase public awareness and provide high fidelity information to counter the myths and shame associated with these perilous medical and psychiatric conditions. One important charge of DECC is public education and awareness, especially with area schools and teachers. In collaboration with other contributing organizations (United Way of Central WV, Contemporary Youth Arts Company, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center's Civic Affairs Council) a mutual effort between DECC and a professional playwright (Daniel Keyde of CYAC) culminated in the creation of an hour-long play. The play is used as a novel and time-effective way of providing information and experiences about eating disorders through the eyes of four teenage actresses.

Also, in the Summer of 2013, with the help of undergraduate research assistant Morgan Mick, Dr. Luzier developed the WV Eating Disorder Network. Our goal was to develop a registry of providers across West Virginia who are interested in treating patients with eating disorders. We routinely disseminated information on trainings in the area and gathered information from providers for potential referral sources around the state. If you are a provider, and you are interested in joining the Network, please send an email to jluzier@hsc.wvu.edu. Also, please mark your calendars for April 11, 2014 - the 1st Annual WV Eating Disorder Network Conference.

Dr. Luzier has also presented workshops on disordered eating for local educators and clinicians to raise awareness of the frequency and urgency of this problem, to highlight signs and symptoms and assist them in making assessments and necessary referrals.

As part of the mission of WVU-DECC, the team will expand these prevention and advocacy efforts.