Staff Spotlight, Karli Alger
Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I am Karli Alger and I work as the PHP program dietitian at the Columbus site. I have been working as an eating disorder dietitian for almost five years and have been with The Emily Program for the past year.
Describe the educational and career path that led you to The Emily Program.
I graduated with my BS from Ohio State University in 2013 and received my RD, LD shortly after. I worked in outpatient settings for my first three years with a focus on general health and nutrition. The more I counseled clients though, I started to see that there was a deeper emotional and psychological component to people’s food choices. I wanted to help, but I needed guidance and training under the supervision of eating disorder clinicians. That led me to apply for a position as a dietitian at the Center for Balanced Living in Columbus, Ohio, where I began my first eating disorder work.
What have your clients and colleagues taught you?
Prior to working in mental health, I labeled emotions as either “good” or “bad.” Whenever I felt a “bad” emotion such as sadness or noticed insecurities creeping in, I would quickly plaster on a smile and convince myself and others around me that I was fine. My clients and colleagues have taught me that there is space for all feelings; that it is healthy to lean into my emotions because they are valid and can show myself and others what I need. I am honored and grateful for the countless clients that have opened up with me over the years to share their pain, sadness, and fears. They will never know how their choice to be vulnerable with me impacted me firsthand and how they have played a role in helping show me what it looks like to share emotions rather than suppress them. I am forever grateful.
What piece of advice would you give to those struggling with eating disorders?
The treatment journey is not linear and neither is the process of going through different levels of care. I’ve had clients graduate from our program and find themselves back in our program months or years later. These clients have confided in me that they were ashamed to come back to treatment fearing that they had failed. That is the furthest thing from failure because the bravest thing a client can do is keep fighting! From my experience, when clients do come back a second, third, etc. round of treatment, they do not regret it and are one step closer to recovery. The amount of humility, vulnerability, and strength our clients have to do always leaves me in awe.
If you could do another job just for a day, what would it be?
A Food Network host or a newscaster. What can I say? I love the camera.
Strangest job you’ve ever had?
When I graduated from college, I was looking for a way to stay in Europe while also living on a college student’s budget. I found the volunteer organization WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and volunteered on a sheep farm in Ireland.