“A Foreward By Dr. Michael Berrett”

Anyone who knows me will readily attest to the fact that I am almost never home on a weekday afternoon. The odds of my both being home and turning on the TV to watch an episode of Dr. Phil approximate those of my winning next week’s Powerball jackpot!  Thankfully, however, I was home on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 25, 2010 and I did happen to turn on the TV and it happened to be tuned to what I would later learn was the second in a two-part series entitled “Dying to Be Thin” http://drphil.com/shows/show/1461/?preview=&versionID= that Dr. Phil had dedicated to exploring the complex world of eating disorders and the profound impact that they have on sufferers and their loved ones. I say “thankfully” because that “happenstance” turned out to have a profound impact on me – and on my book.

The story of the family in crisis was heart-wrenching, as most involving eating disorders are.  As is often the case, however, the show ended with Dr. Phil offering the family and their beautiful daughter a ray of hope in the form of an all-expense-paid course of treatment at the Center for Change http://www.centerforchange.com – an internationally acclaimed residential treatment facility for those suffering from eating disorders located in Orem, Utah. In extending the offer, Dr. Phil introduced the family and his audience to Dr. Michael Berrett, the CEO, Executive Director, and Co-founder of the Center, who Dr. Phil described as one of only a small handful of experts in the entire world who truly understand eating disorders.  Fortunately, the family accepted Dr. Phil’s generous and potentially life-saving offer.

I, on the other hand, was eager to learn more about Dr. Berrett and went straight to the computer to begin my research.  What I discovered was that Dr. Berrett had dedicated most of his professional life (more than 28 years at the time) to working with those suffering from eating disorders. I also learned that he has co-authored several books and book chapters, including “Spiritual Approaches in the Treatment of Women with Eating Disorders” and “Spiritual Renewal: A Journey of Faith and Healing”. In addition, Dr. Berrett has co-authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed professional journals and is a highly sought after speaker and clinical trainer, who has presented at innumerable national and international conferences hosted by NEDA, IAEDP, RENFREW, BEDA, IECA, NATSAP, BFI SUMMIT.

As fate would have it, early last year, I had an opportunity to hear Dr. Berrett and his frequent speaking companion, Jenni Schaefer http://www.jennischaefer.com, a best-selling author in her own right, speak at a local high school as part of a week-long series of conferences sponsored by the South Florida Chapter of NEDA.  Suffice it to say, I was deeply moved and inspired by Dr. Berrett’s remarks and, as importantly, by his genuine compassion and spirituality.  A few days later, a mutual friend was kind enough to provide an introduction, via e-mail, and I reached out to Dr. Berrett asking if he would review the “Dear Ashley” manuscript and, if he felt it appropriate, consider offering a few words of support that I could include with the other “early-reader” testimonials.

Never could I have imagined the response I received several weeks later.  Not only did Dr. Berrett have many kind words to say about the book, but he graciously and enthusiastically agreed to provide whatever support I believed would be most helpful in ensuring that its message reached the broadest possible audience, including writing a Foreward. I jumped at the opportunity and, as I suspect writers often do in such situations, proceeded to “hold my breath” as I anxiously anticipated its arrival.  It would be impossible for me to overstate how honored and privileged I feel to be the “beneficiary” of Dr. Berrett’s Foreward.  In fact, I’m so excited that I thought I would share some excerpts from it in today’s post in the hope that it will inspire you to share my enthusiasm for the upcoming release of the book:

Dear Ashley… A Father’s Reflections and Letters to His Daughter on Life, Love, and Hope, is a beautiful, refreshing, and inspiring message. It can be a powerful tool in the work of recovery from the pain and suffering of eating disorder illnesses, for the patient, their families, and professionals. However, it is also a lesson in high-quality, close proximity, and deeply engaged parenting. The lessons taught can be applied well beyond the suffering of eating disorders, and into any loving relationship towards living a life with a positive attitude, courage, integrity, and love.”

“Don’s book [contains] a powerful message that . . . [we as] parents do have the responsibility, and the privilege, to engage in a loving relationship [with our children] which does not include any measure of “holding back”. He teaches that the true power in parenting comes not from hiding real human weakness and various feelings of inadequacy, but by telling the truth about them, and then moving beyond them with the power of love and influence. Don is a pioneer and an example to us all in the mastery of ‘positive self- disclosure,’ where humility, openness, and vulnerability lift and empower.”

“[In his book,] Don takes [his] readers through this three-step process [that, if embraced, will not only touch our lives, but, as importantly] the lives of others], as he writes about many key principles of character which empower recovery including faith, honesty, courage, and perseverance. He teaches us about living life fully, learning to love, and the processes of surrender, recovery, and healing. He teaches us what he has learned through observation and self-honesty, and then he teaches us what he has taught his daughter Ashley, through personal, tender and heartfelt letters.”

“I highly recommend this book, which comes from a brilliant writer, tender-hearted father, and a man of faith and integrity. It will tug at your heart strings and inspire deep self-reflection. It will invite you to stand up and reach a little higher in receiving and giving love and tenderness beyond the obstacles of fear or self-doubt.  Parents, families, patients, professionals, and individuals in general will be greatly rewarded and well-taught by jumping into this easy-to-read and difficult-to-forget-book, which has a spirit of honesty, goodness, and illumination. It is a testament . . . that tender parental love is possible, enduring, and of great worth.”

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