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Kendra Cole, LCSW

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It is just not enough that people are physically healthy before undergoing bariatric surgery, it is equally important that they are mentally healthy.

SBL Counselor Kendra Cole, LCSW, said, “Some people may be a little scared to see a counselor, but it’s important to discover any underlying issues before a weight-loss surgery so we can resolve them. We know weight management is not just a physical issue, but a whole body issue.”

People who are pursuing bariatric surgery will visit with Cole at least two times or until they are cleared to proceed before the surgery and then after one month post-surgery, followed by every three months up to a year post surgery. She added, “But I am here and available anytime my help is needed.”

For people who have battled weight issues for many years, it is often because issues are tied to food – emotional triggers. “When things happen, their first move may be to go to the fridge or cabinet. Our job is to figure out the triggers and filter them out. Or, maybe they eat out of boredom or stress, and I will help them find activities to change their lifestyles to replace the mindless eating,” she explained.

“People, who use food as an emotional outlet, don’t think about using other skills or tools in their basket. We’re creatures of habits. If food is their go-to, then I need to help them learn to use the coping tools so they are successful post-surgery,” Cole added. “Food can be a struggle for people because we have to eat to survive. Whatever the patient’s relationship with food, we need to figure it out and address it.”

Cole explained that an acclaimed weight-loss doctor does not describe the procedure as bariatric surgery, but rather she describes it as a behavioral process. “The surgery is a very powerful tool that helps people lose weight in a short amount of time. The behavioral factors have to be addressed to be successful in the long term.”

Ultimately, Cole explained, “we want to address people where they are at, and help them learn better stress management and cognitive skills to understand what they need to do be successful long term. The counseling visits are not mean to be a judgement of any kind. We just want our patients to live a healthy lifestyle, just like any other patient.”

For more information about the SBL Bariatric Program, call the Medical Clinic at the Center for Healthy Living at 217-238-4961.

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