A Brief History of Mirasol
As told by Jeanne Rust, CEO and Founder
Let me start the history of Mirasol by sharing that I am a recovered anorexic, bulimic, and compulsive overeater. In my lifetime, I have done everything there is to do with food! My parents were very overweight binge eaters, and happiness in our house was a full refrigerator. Both of my parents died of medical consequences related to their eating disorders.
As a result of my personal history, my life mission has been to find a way of helping people with eating disorders learn how to become well. The good news is that people with eating disorders can be completely "cured," achieving health and wellness and leading the kinds of lives they had previously only dreamed of!
When I was a therapist in private practice specializing in eating disorders in the mid-90s, I worked closely with the University of Arizona Athletic Department and Student Health Services. Over a period of years, I received many referrals from the university — including young women who had been through in-patient treatment programs over the summer holidays. They would begin the fall semester, encounter stress from exams, dating, homesickness, etc., and go into relapse. I could see the shame these young women felt as they rapidly resumed the disordered eating that was the only coping strategy they knew to help them with the stresses of school, their social lives, their families, etc.
With this experience, I was more aware than ever that the kind of treatment eating disorder professionals were delivering wasn't working. As Agras (1993) stated, only 32% of people who had received treatment were eating-disorder-free after one year. This just wasn't good enough! I decided that I needed to begin to look at eating disorders in a different way and find a way to reduce the frequency of relapse.
At this same time, I was a student at Saybrook Institute, pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. I became interested in the work of Ian Wickramasekera, PhD, who developed the High Risk Model of Threat Perception. This model fits well with the experiences and emotions associated with eating disorders and is also a good predictor for the types of people who are more likely to develop a chronic, stress-related disease, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, autoimmune disorders and certainly eating disorders.
With the college student in mind, I first started Mirasol as a 15-day workshop program. I thought that a client could get the basics in the two-week period and then, with a strong aftercare program, be able to continue her recovery on an out-patient basis. The program was designed with a great deal of love, care and research to be rich in experience with an emphasis not only on eating disorders but on personal identity: what kind of woman did my client want to be in the world when she no longer had an eating disorder? What were her values? What were her priorities? What were her passions in life?
After a few months of this program, I was not at all satisfied with the results we were getting, and I increased the length of stay to 28 days. Then, to get a minimum number of the newly added neurofeedback sessions with our psychologist, I again had to increase the minimum length of stay to 45 days. I wish that every client would stay for a minimum of 60 days, but unfortunately that's not something every client can do.
I love the Mirasol program. I am proud of the results that we're getting in terms of recovery. Our staff is exceptional. More than anything, I'm thrilled when I see a woman leave Mirasol full of confidence, with her chin held high and possessing a new knowledge of herself that enables her to succeed in the world.