Welcome to Sandra Backovich, MA, MFT

"Have you thought that talking to someone about life's challenges might help? Face your challenges with helpful psychology, a sympathetic ear and zero judgement." Call (415) 921-3426

I have a general practice. This means I can be of help with most problems. Below is a list of issues with which I have expertise to help you. Depression, anxiety, relationship issues in all kinds of relationships (spousal, family, work, friends, dating),trauma and post traumatic stress disorder, disordered eating through out the life span (eating disorders), self esteem adoption, parenting, grief and loss.

If you are not sure or don't see your problem listed please contact me and we can talk about it. I may be able to find you a referral if I don�t think I can be of help. I also have an office in Berkeley in addition to my San Francisco location.

How I Work

Whether suffering from loss, struggling with depression, fighting an eating disorder, or experiencing distress in relationships, I help my clients effectively share and work with unresolved emotional pain, seeking to explore deeper core issues that will allow healing, self acceptance and change.

We begin with building safety and security in our therapeutic, as well as real, connection through my attunement and attention to your needs and emotions. I pay close watch over what occurs between us and in ourselves, to arrive at the emotional and relational issues that we need to work with together.The healing occurs because of and within the therapeutic relationship as we explore issues that have compromised how you live your life. Through our work together, which includes support, understanding, genuine, honest feedback and attunement to the deeper core states of emotions, we will awaken in you old and new capacities allowing you to be who you are.

Eating Disorder Research & News

Dr. Laura Hill specializes in the education and
research of eating disorders. She gives a wonderful
presentation about the subject in this video.
Calm, pleasure and satisfaction is what most people
experience after eating. But for people with eating
disorders, food brings anxiety, disturbance and noise.
Dr. Hill takes a look from the inside out from the "sound"
to the biology of these diseases and how the future holds a
different approach to manage the illness while bringing
these patients hope.

Click here for Dr. Laura Hill


Use of yoga in outpatient eating disorder treatment:
a pilot study.

Allison Hall, Nana Ama Ofei-Tenkorang, Jason T. Machan
and Catherine M. GordonEmail author
Journal of Eating Disorders2016


Yoga practice combined with outpatient eating disorder
treatment were shown to decrease anxiety, depression,
and body image disturbance without negatively impacting
weight. These preliminary results suggest yoga to be a
promising adjunct treatment strategy, along with standard
multidisciplinary care. However, whether yoga should be
endorsed as a standard component of outpatient eating
disorder treatment merits further study.

Click here for the full report

Research Reveals Help for Eating Disorder Patients

Jan. 6, 2017 Date:
January 6, 2017
Cornell College
More people are dying from eating disorders than any
other psychiatric disorder, and professor has discovered
a way to help women by significantly reducing eating
disorder symptoms in those who are struggling.

"Our intervention encourages women to criticize media
messages which teach women and girls that we must be
thin to be considered beautiful," said Green. "We also
teach women and girls how to combat societal messages
which teach us to define our worth in terms of our appearances."

Click here for the full report

Identifying children at risk of eating disorders is key to saving lives

January 5, 2017
Newcastle University
Spotting eating disorder symptoms in children as young
as nine years old will allow medics to intervene early
and save lives, experts say.

Click here for the full report

Brains of those with anorexia, bulimia can override urge to eat

November 8, 2016
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Scientists have discovered the neurological reasons why
those with anorexia and bulimia nervosa are able to
override the urge to eat.

In a study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry,
the researchers showed that normal patterns of appetite
stimulation in the brain are effectively reversed in those
with eating disorders.

Rather than the hypothalamus, a brain region that regulates
appetite, driving motivation to eat, signals from other parts
of the brain can override the hypothalamus in eating disorders.

Read the full report

New insights on eating disorders

Scientists are uncovering the faulty neurobiology behind anorexia
and bulimia, debunking the myth that such eating disorders are
solely driven by culture and environment.

By Kirsten Weir
April 2016, Vol 47, No. 4

Public misunderstanding of mental health disorders is nothing
new. But for eating disorders in particular, misinformation abounds.
"You still read more about anorexia in the celebrity section of
publications than in health sections," says Nancy Zucker, PhD,
a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.
"The emphasis is on it being a culturally guided phenomenon."
Even medical definitions of eating disorders have often focused
on external factors, including cultural pressures, parents' attitudes
toward weight and diet, and stressful or traumatic events that might
trigger disordered eating habits. While the environment certainly
plays a part in shaping the behaviors, evidence is mounting that
eating disorders begin in the brain.

Read the full report click here

Hormones that are released during hunger affect decision making

May 9, 2016
University of Gothenburg
Never make a decision when you are hungry. The hormone ghrelin
- that is released before meals and known to increase appetite
- has a negative effect on both decision making and impulse control,
report scientists.

Click for full report

Genetic risk factor for binge eating discovered Date:
October 26, 2016
Boston University Medical Center
Researchers have identified a gene (CYFIP2) associated with binge eating.
This finding represents one of the first examples of a genome-wide
significant genetic factor to be identified for binge eating in model
organisms or humans. These findings could potentially lead to treatments
targeted to normalize eating behaviors.

This finding represents one of the first examples of a genome-wide
significant genetic factor to be identified for binge eating in
model organisms or humans. In addition, the researchers discovered
a network of downregulated genes involved in myelination
(the process of forming a sheath around a nerve fiber to allow
nerve impulses to move quickly) that also was associated with
binge eating.

Click for the full report

Perceived obesity causes lower body satisfaction
for women than men, study shows

October 11, 2016
University of York
'Owning' an obese body produces significantly lower body
satisfaction for females than males, scientists have found.
In the first study of its kind investigating healthy individuals
and their brain activity when perceiving themselves as either
slim or obese, psychologists found that the way we perceive
our bodies directly triggers neural responses which can lead
to body dissatisfaction.

These findings, which appear online in the journal Biological
Psychiatry, could potentially lead to treatments targeted to
normalize eating behaviors.

Click for the full report

Eating disorder prevention program
reduces brain reward region response to

Change your attitude. Change your behavior. Change your brain.

Discussing the costs of pursuing the unrealistic thin beauty
ideal reduces valuation of this idea.

Scientists at Oregon Research Institute (ORI) have published
unique research results indicating that a brief dissonance-based
eating disorder prevention program (Body Project) alters how young
women's brains respond to images of thin supermodels. Previous
results from Body Project studies showed that the intervention
reduces pursuit of the unrealistic thin ideal espoused in the mass media.
The current study provides the first evidence that it fundamentally
alters how young women's brains response to supermodels, which play
a vital role in perpetuating this unattainable beauty idea.
Whole brain imaging before and after the intervention revealed
significant changes in brain responsivity when participants viewed
images of supermodels. This is the first study to use objective
brain imaging to detect the neural effects of a behavioral prevention

Read the full report from Medical News Today.com

Stored fat fights against the body's attempts to lose weight

Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness
Eating Disorders
Heart Disease

MNT Knowledge Center
Adapted Media Release
Published: Tuesday 24 November 2015

The fatter we are, the more our body appears to produce a protein that
inhibits our ability to burn fat, suggests new research published in the
journal Nature Communication. The findings may have implications for the
treatment of obesity and other metabolic diseases.

Most of the fat cells in the body act to store excess energy and release
it when needed but some types of fat cells, known as brown adipocytes,
function primarily for a process known as thermogenesis, which generates
heat to keep us warm. However, an international team of researchers from
the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Sciences
at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Toho University, Japan, have shown
that a protein found in the body, known as sLR11, acts to suppress this process.

Researchers investigated why mice that lacked the gene for the production of
this protein were far more resistant to weight gain. All mice - and, in fact,
humans - increase their metabolic rate slightly when switched from a lower
calorie diet to a higher calorie diet, but mice lacking the gene responded
with a much greater increase, meaning that they were able to burn calories faster.

Further examinations revealed that in these mice, genes normally associated with
brown adipose tissue were more active in white adipose tissue (which normally
stores fat for energy release). In line with this observation, the mice themselves
were indeed more thermogenic and had increased energy expenditure, particularly
following high fat diet feeding.

read the full report click here

from: Medical news today

Study finds surprising links between bullying and eating disorders

Eating Disorders
Pediatrics / Children's Health
Anxiety / Stress

Being bullied in childhood has been associated with increased
risk for anxiety, depression and even eating disorders. But
according to new research, it's not only the victims who could
be at risk psychologically, but also the bullies themselves.

Researchers at Duke Medicine and the University of North Carolina
School of Medicine were surprised to find that in a study of 1,420
children, those who bullied others were twice as likely to display
symptoms of bulimia, such as bingeing and purging, when compared to
children who are not involved in bullying. The findings are published
in the December issue of International Journal of Eating Disorders.

"For a long time, there's been this story about bullies that they're
a little more hale and hearty," said lead author William Copeland, Ph.D.,
associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke
University School of Medicine. "Maybe they're good at manipulating social
situations or getting out of trouble, but in this one area it seems
that's not the case at all. Maybe teasing others may sensitize them
to their own body image issues, or afterward, they have regret for
their actions that results in these symptoms like binge eating followed
by purging or excess exercise."

read the full report from Medical News Today click here

The findings come from an analysis of interviews from the Great
Smoky Mountains Study, a database with more than two decades of
health information on participants who enrolled at age 9. The
data is considered a community sample and not representative of
the U.S. population, but offers clues to how children ages 9 to 16
could be affected.

Study finds surprising links
between bullying and eating disorders click here for the full report

Have an apple-shaped body? You may be more
susceptible to binge eating

Eating Disorders
Women's Health / Gynecology
Nutrition / Diet
Psychology / Psychiatry
Have an apple-shaped body? You may be more susceptible to binge eating

Have an apple-shaped body? You may be more susceptible to binge eating
read the full article click here

MNT Knowledge Center
Adapted Media Release
Published: Mon 16 November 2015 at 12am PST

Women with apple-shaped bodies - those who store more of
their fat in their trunk and abdominal regions - may be at
particular risk for the development of eating episodes during
which they experience a sense of "loss of control," according
to a new study from Drexel University. The study also found
that women with greater fat stores in their midsections reported
being less satisfied with their bodies, which may contribute to
loss-of-control eating.

This study marks the first investigation of the connections between
fat distribution, body image disturbance and the development of
disordered eating.
"Eating disorders that are detected early are much more likely to be
successfully treated. Although existing eating disorder risk models
comprehensively address psychological factors, we know of very few
biologically-based factors that help us predict who may be more likely
to develop eating disorder behaviors," said lead author Laura Berner,
PhD, who completed the research while pursuing a doctoral degree at Drexel.

"Our preliminary findings reveal that centralized fat distribution may be
an important risk factor for the development of eating disturbance,
specifically for loss-of-control eating," said Berner. "This suggests
that targeting individuals who store more of their fat in the midsection
and adapting psychological interventions to focus specifically on body
fat distribution could be beneficial for preventing eating disorders."

The study, titled "Examination of Central Body Fat Deposition as a Risk
Factor for Loss-of-Control Eating," was published in the American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition.

Berner is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Eating Disorders
Center for Treatment and Research at UC San Diego Health. Michael R.
Lowe, PhD, a professor in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences, was
a co-author, along with Danielle Arigo, PhD, who was a postdoctoral
research fellow at Drexel and is now an assistant professor of psychology
at the University of Scranton; Laurel Mayer, MD, associate professor of
clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute,; and David B. Sarwer,
PhD, professor of psychology in Psychiatry and Surgery at the Perelman
School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as well as director
of clinical services at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.

Mounting evidence suggests that experiencing a sense of loss-of-control during eating
- feeling driven or compelled to keep eating or that stopping once one has started
is difficult - is the most significant element of binge-eating episodes regardless
of how much food is consumed, according to the researchers.

Have an apple-shaped body? You may be more susceptible to binge eating
read the full article click here

Dartmouth scientists unravel brain circuits involved in cravings

Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs
Eating Disorders
Psychology / Psychiatry
Dartmouth scientists unravel brain circuits involved in cravings

MNT Knowledge Center
Adapted Media Release
Published: Thu 12 November 2015 at 3am PST
Dartmouth scientists unravel brain circuits involved in cravings
click here for the full report
click here to read the full report

Dartmouth researchers studying rats have discovered that activation
of designer neural receptors can suppress cravings in a brain region
involved in triggering those cravings.

The study is the first to systematically show how designer brain
receptors and designer drugs work together to change how cues for
food stimulate motivation. The findings, which may help scientists
to fight addiction, overeating and other habitual behavior in humans,
appear in the European Journal of Neuroscience.

In everyday life, we are bombarded with advertisements, or cues,
that garner our attention and trigger us into purchasing products,
or rewards. Consequently, these reward-paired cues can become attractive
themselves. For example McDonald's golden arches can produce cravings
for fast food even though you haven't seen the food or aren't even hungry.
Scientists study this phenomenon using sign-tracking, or autoshaping, an
experimental conditioning in which the reward is given regardless of the
subject's behavior.

"Although we have a sense of what brain circuits mediate reward, less
is known about the neural circuitry underlying the transfer of value
to cues associated with rewards," says lead author Stephen Chang, a
postdoctoral fellow. "We were primarily interested in whether the ventral
pallidum, a brain region implicated in processing reward, is also
involved in sign-tracking."

Previously, it was impossible to inactivate brain areas like this repeatedly
and temporarily to study how cues become valuable in themselves. But it
is now possible with a new technology called DREADDs (designer receptors
exclusively activated by designer drugs). Your brain cells are loaded with
natural receptors, or molecules like jigsaw puzzles that are activated when
another molecule arrives that fits like a missing piece. But DREADDs are
engineered receptors introduced into neurons using viruses. Injection of a
synthetic drug can activate these receptors, thus shutting down the neurons
as a sort of remote control.

Dartmouth scientists unravel brain circuits involved in cravings
click here for the full report