Family and Loved Ones’ Sensitivity Training

By: Jillian Catalano

West Virginia University

During the month of February 2021, the Healing Bodies Healthy Babies research team released their first ever Family and Loved Ones’ Sensitivity Training. The virtual seminar has been much anticipated, as members of the team have spent months researching, creating, and producing visual content to optimize the viewer experience. Dr. Elizabeth Claydon laid the groundwork for this project but received support from her student research assistants. Zoya Khan, Ruke Asagba, Hattie Rowe (acting) and Taylor Shultz (filming) contributed to the video component of the training. Zoya Khan also created the slide deck for the presentation. The Family and Loved Ones’ Sensitivity Training is now available for public viewing on the Healing Bodies Healthy Babies Website.

The sensitivity training was designed to educate others about eating disorders and pregnancy. It also provides insight on how to better support a family member or loved one who may have an eating disorder during pregnancy or in postpartum. Individuals with eating disorders can benefit from family and loved ones who foster a supportive framework during their care and treatment.  It is immensely beneficial for someone with an eating disorder to have advocates and allies in close emotional proximity. Dr. Claydon used her past research which interviewed several women to better understand their personal experiences with eating disorders and pregnancy to inform and ensure the effectiveness of this sensitivity training.

The training establishes a common understanding of the main types of eating disorders, as family and loved ones may have had different experiences in the past. It shifts from a general discussion of eating disorders to providing information about the complex issue of eating disorders and pregnancy. Despite the intricacy of eating disorders and pregnancy, the training outlines specific recommendations for family and loved ones to support an individual with an eating disorder. One of the most simplistic and crucial ways to support a loved one is by using sensitive word choices; for example, using positive affirmations instead of negative assumptions. Educating yourself and encouraging your loved one to seek help were among some other recommendations mentioned in the training.

The Healing Bodies Healthy Babies team has conducted prior sensitivity trainings and research projects, but this virtual seminar is the first of its kind. Zoya Khan, an active student researcher, provided insight about working on the Healing Bodies Healthy Babies Team. “My favorite part of being a part of this project was definitely getting to work with a team made up of so many different students and working with Dr. Claydon,” stated Zoya Khan. She has been a student researcher for a year and a half and has been given the opportunity to work independently, as well as gain extensive public health knowledge working alongside Dr. Claydon. Zoya hopes that more families and loved ones will utilize the resources offered by Healing Bodies Healthy Babies in the future. “We often think about providing resources for patients, but we should also remember their loved ones may also like to learn how to support the patient.” Zoya reported.

Additional resources for family members and loved ones can be found on the Healing Bodies Healthy Babes website.  


Claydon, E. Family and Loved Ones’ Sensitivity Training. (2021, February 4). Healing Bodies Healthy Babies.