Interview with Laura Cusumano
What inspired you to specialize in eating disorder treatment?
In college, I double majored in psychology and theatre. Throughout my life, I encountered a number of people in the theatre community who struggled with body image and disordered eating, and I wanted to help promote a culture of listening to and loving one’s body. I joined a group on campus called CARES, which stood for Collegiate Awareness Regarding Eating Smart. We did outreach on campus to build awareness about eating disorders, to educate about eating disorder prevention, and to inspire body positivity. Ever since then, I have been drawn to the topic of eating disorders. During my graduate studies, I focused a great deal of my research on eating disorders, and I was fortunate to complete my internship at an eating disorder treatment facility in the Midwest. I love helping people who are struggling with physical, psychological, and emotional challenges move toward healing and flourishing.
Describe what your favorite therapeutic skill is, and why:
I enjoy helping my patients learn how to validate others and how to recognize when others are validating them. I think it is so important to feel understood and to feel like one’s experiences matter and make sense. Validation is an excellent skill to achieve those goals.
What do you enjoy the most about working in this field?
I love being able to meet a variety of people from all different walks of life and to be part of their journeys. I feel really privileged to have the opportunity to be an important and trusted person in my patients’ lives.
What is one of your favorite Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT) skill, and why?
One of my favorite RO DBT skills is “Flexible Mind is LIGHT.” It can be so easy to become fixed in cynicism and bitterness and to have blinders on that prevent us from seeing things that are uplifting in the world around us and in our everyday relationships. “Flexible Mind is LIGHT” helps us to go opposite to the bitterness we experience so that we can move outside of ourselves to practice kindness, help others, and practice gratitude.
Now, for a bit of fun. What is your favorite hobby or leisure activity?
My favorite hobby is singing. I have been performing for most of my life, and I love musical theatre. Whenever I have time, you can find me belting out songs around my house. Singing is something that has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, and something that I enjoyed with my mom growing up. It was an important part of our relationship, so I value it a lot. It’s a healthy way for me to express my emotions.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
My favorite color is hot pink, and if you come to my office you’ll pick up on that very quickly! I also really like sequins and glitter!