A Chat with Ilene Fishman Part 3: Training the clinician

Recently we sat with Ilene V. Fishman, LCSW, ACSW, FAED (Fellow of the Academy of Eating Disorders). In part, we wanted to discuss her book The Deeper Fix: For your Growth and Empowerment, but we also wanted to catch up with a dear friend of and provider of clinical supervision for Galen Hope. We are excited that Ilene has agreed to share some of her wisdom with us and allowed us to share it with you.

In this segment, we talked with Ilene about her work as a clinical supervisor and a mentor of other clinicians.

“I want to empower therapists”

Because Ilene sometimes works as a clinical supervisor at Galen Hope, we wanted to talk with her about her philosophy on working with other clinicians. She told us:

“Well, I want to empower therapists. Also because I think a lot of our training is, you know, we’re taught to engage. People were taught to be nice, look at our own cultural backgrounds, at our own personalities. So, I need to keep that in mind, of course.

We all do what we’re comfortable with. We work, and therapy is an art form, so we bring ourselves and how we work. Some of us are married to theory, but I think it’s an art form, so we all bring our own personalities. 

The better we know ourselves I think, can help us be better therapists.  

I need to really be respectful of that when I’m working with other therapists. That they’re not me, I’m not them. They’re going to do things their way.

They have a certain comfort level, different than my comfort level, and it doesn’t matter if I think I’m right. If it’s not something that’s going to be comfortable for them, and they’re not going to be comfortable working that way.

So I need to get to know, and be interested in, and respectful to, who the therapists are and how they work, and why they work the way that they work. And if you add something based on my experience and the way that I work, that’s great. But at the end of the day, they are the experts, because they’re on the front lines doing their work in those cases.”

The Deeper Fix

The idea of clinicians knowing themselves is a central feature in Ilene’s book The Deeper Fix: For your Growth and Empowerment. In the book, Ilene talks very candidly about herself, and her own journey of recovery. This type of self-reflexivity is unusual for therapists, in the office, or in their writing.  We asked specifically about what inspired Ilene to write her book, and why she turned her focus onto herself in the ways she did:

“I really felt, and I write about this in the book, it was like a monkey on my back. I felt compelled. If my goal is to help people, and that is my goal, I didn’t know a better way than to use myself, because the truth is, my theory comes out of my own life experience.

And I felt that writing about patients, which is what most therapists do and most publishers expect, first of all, I was less interested in doing that. But it also would have been more dishonest.

I wasn’t really interested in telling my story, I’m really interested in the theory. I’m really interested in helping educate people so that they can take stuff that I know to be true back to their therapy, and they can make their therapy better, and they can know good therapy from not good enough therapy, and they can figure out what they need to get to the bottom of. Why they’re sick and they can get better.

That’s why I made this stuff about myself. And people were interested in my story. I talked very little about my story in my life.

The balance of theory versus self was the hardest part of the book. That was the part where I’d be writing the book, and I would feel sick, like it was very hard. The theory is what I wanted to do, but the story explains the theory. And the authenticity of the theory, really, is the timing with my story, and necessity is the mother of invention, right? What compels us to do the work that we do, or do the things that we do in our lives? And very often and for me certainly, it had to do with my own personal experience.”

Ilene at Galen Hope

And finally, we asked Ilene to reflect on the work she is doing with Galen Hope, and on her long-time friendship and professional relationship with Galen Hope Co-Founder Wendy Oliver-Pyatt.

“I’ve always really, really enjoyed working with Wendy, and have so much respect for the way she works and the way she thinks about clinical work. And I think she and I are on the same page a lot. Because so many people are failed in our mental health system. So many families, so many individuals, and partners, so much suffering and that’s one of my other pet peeves.

I’m really enjoying this work with Galen Hope, and really enjoying getting to know Galen Hope providers who are excellent and caring. And it’s just such a good program, so I’m very I’m thrilled to be part of it.

It’s a privilege for me to be able to sort of jump in and hear about someone’s work in a particular case, and I get to sort of put my two cents in, right? I get to, because I’ve been doing this for like 39 years, and because I’m the kind of therapist that I am. I see stuff, so to be able to just jump in and say, you know, “check out this. And what about that? And you know, I think this could be helpful.”

Wow, I mean we’ll see as time goes on. Hopefully that it will be as helpful as I hope it is, but it’s wonderful for me.”

Our relationship is just as wonderful for us, too.


Built on the principles of assertive community treatment, Galen Hope is an eating disorder and mental health treatment center offering individualized treatment options that include Intensive Outpatient (IOP), supported housing, and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). As a “Community of Integrated Wellness,” we pride ourselves in fostering a thoughtful and meaningful care experience that can guide our clients on their road to recovery and increased quality of life, regardless of diagnosis. Galen Hope currently offers separate, age-specific programming for adolescents ages 12-17 and adults 18 and up of all genders.

To learn more, or to join our community for integrated wellness, please contact us today.

Belong. Heal. Grow.


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