About Dr J Renae Norton

Dr Renae Norton

Dr. J. Renae Norton became interested in the treatment of eating disorders while still in graduate school. Her primary areas of expertise during her doctoral training were family systems theory, and Neuro-psychology. She began her practice in 1985 after doing her residency in clinical psychology at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Over the years her reputation as the go-to therapist for the toughest eating disorder cases has spread to other states and professionals around the country. Presently, she offers an alternative to inpatient treatment in cases where the individual is suffering from a severe case of Anorexia, Bulimia, Bulimarexia (or a combination of the two) Binge Eating Disorder and obesity. She also coaches other professionals delivering services to eating disorder patients.

Dr. Norton did her dissertation in 1985 comparing the identification and treatment of eating disorders from a Gestalt, Behavioral, Psychoanalytic, Neurophysiologic and Family Systems perspective. Her research convinced her that the traditional view of the causes of serious eating disorders, i.e. the overprotective mother along with the critical father, was a gross over-simplification for understanding such disorders. Her belief then and now is that you must treat the individual with an eating disorder taking into consideration all of the various systems that impact her. To that end, she uses a bio-psycho-social model of treatment.

“I think one of the reasons I have had so much success treating this population where others have failed, is that I don’t make any assumptions about my patients. I recognize that each person presents with a unique history and with a pattern of behaviors that, though part of a symptom complex, are never exactly the same.”

A core belief of Dr. Norton’s is that traditional treatment approaches are sadly lacking in terms of successful outcomes because they tend to use a One-Size-Fits-All approach for those suffering from an eating disorder. Anorexia and related disorders have a higher rate of mortality than any other psychological disorder, such that it is imperative to understand the unique needs of each individual in delivering services.

Looking for an Alternative to Residential Treatment?

In terms of residental care, the high failure rate is partly due to the pressure to reduce costs by limiting the length of stay along with the tendency to use a cookie cutter approach to treatment, which, though less expensive, is also less effective. While the provider may profit more from a one-size-fits-all approach, the research strongly suggests that it is not more cost-effective for the patient, who often pays an extraordinarily high price for inpatient treatment and usually returns several times, each time getting worse.

“From my point of view, the approach for the vast majority of residential treatment centers is simply unacceptable. We need a method of treatment for this population that is patient-centric, i.e. it needs to be focused on the individual and not the diagnosis.” 

According to Dr.John Grohol, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central. “Proponents of residential treatment admit there’s little research to back its use for eating disorders….”

Treatment must be comprehensive enough to ensure that the gains made in treatment generalize to the patient’s life outside of treatment. Putting an individual in a residential treatment center, especially if she has control issues, and taking away her freedom of choice, only delays the inevitable, i.e. that she herself must choose a healthy relationship with food in order to live a normal life. Likewise, making the right decision in a treatment facility where there are very few life stressors and minimal opportunities to make choices, does not usually prepare the patient for the realities of daily living when she returns home.

Residential treatment isn’t working for most patients.  This is what the research shows for residential versus outpatient treatment for Anorexia:

TreatmentWell at 2 YearsWell at 5 Years
Outpatient20.0% 47.1%

As you can see the success rates for outpatient treatment are considerably higher.  Dr. Norton believes there are several reasons that residential treatment does not work.

Anorexia takes place within the context of the family or at home.  Recovery must take place there as well.   While in residential treatment, the individual is not given choices about what or when to eat.  She must leave treatment, usually after 21 days, which is when insurance runs out, and at that point she is on her own.  She has not learned how to manage the stressors that life throws at her in 21 days because she is removed from them. 

Intensive outpatient treatment involving the family works much better.  Dr. Norton’s outcomes for patients who remain in treatment are in the 90% range and relapse rates are very low.  The individual learns coping skills in the context in which she must use them; her home, school, or workplace.  Dr. Norton offers 5 to 10 hours of intensive outpatient treatment per week.  Treatment includes family members or a significant other, many of whom desperately need the support in order to cope with their own fears and non-productive urges when it comes to interacting with the individual suffering from an eating disorder. 

“In my experience, parents are never neutral. They are either helping or hurting, no matter how well-intended they are. In fact the ‘best’ parents can have the worst impact, because they try harder. It’s just that what they do naturally has an effect opposite of what they intend, making matters worse.

This is why it is so important to involve the family and significant others in the therapeutic process. 

Research consistently points to the value of family involvement and yet the vast majority of professionals treating these disorders do not appear[3] to include family members as part of the treatment.  Some practitioners go to great lengths to prevent family involvement in a misguided effort to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient. While both privacy and confidentiality are of the utmost importance, they do not have to be violated in order to use a family-based approach.[4]

Another reason that residential treatment fails is that the quality of the food that residential patients are fed is abysmal.  Dr. Norton interviewed 15 residential treatment centers about their philosophy on the role of clean food in recovery.  Not one treatment center recognized or factored in the role that food additives which are obesogenic, addictive, carcinogenic, allergenic, or autogenic might be having on their patient’s recovery rates.  

The primary concern was keeping costs down. Given the extraordinarily high cost of residential treatment, this rationale is hard to justify.  But justify it they do by promoting the idea that  the patient should be able to “eat all things in moderation.”

“I do not believe that eating all things in moderation works, especially when so many of our foods contain addictants that are designed to make it impossible to eat the food in moderation. Many individuals suffering from Anorexia are addicted to sugar because they avoid fats and grains and because they need the energy boost that sugar gives them.  But this is a slippery slope, as the sugar in the U.S. today is extraordinarily addicting and damaging to the parts of the brain that regulate eating behavior.”

When it comes to treating eating disorders Dr. Norton’s approach works where others fail because she can document the role that polluted and addicting foods play in eating disorders, especially Anorexia, Bulimia, Bulimarexia and obesity.  Dr. Norton’s patients learn to trust food again as a result.  Clean eating means no more bloat, no food babies, no food cravings, no food allergies or uncontrollable weight gain.  Clean food is like medicine.  But besides being nutritious, it is also absolutely delicious!

Clean food heals, polluted food hurts.  And clean food, the way it was intended to be, is so much more satisfying, without being addicting.  In it’s natural state, there is nothing more delicious than real food; food without the insecticides, pesticides and GMO’s that are making us ill in the United States.  We currently have the distinction of being the wealthiest unhealthiest country in the world.

Please note that patients must be medically stable prior to entry into our intensive outpatient treatment program.  Some may require temporary hospitalization for medical stabilization prior to being enrolled.

Fountain of Youth

This was Dr. Norton in 1970 with Mr. America, Kenny Waller, on the cover of Strength and Health Magazine. Mr. Waller went on to be Mr. Universe.

Besides being a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Norton is a wellness researcher and writer with a keen interest in the power of clean eating for healing what ails us.  She exemplifies the value of clean eating as a 70-year-old who is often mistaken for a 50-year-old.  For the past 15 years she has been on a mission to reverse the aging process, identifying and helping to resolve such life-threatening problems as dementia, high cholesterol, “incurable” viral infections, autoimmune disorders and thyroid disease in herself and in her patients through the use of clean eating and supplementing.

Dr. Norton walks the talk.  If you are looking for the Fountain of Youth, you have come to the right place.  Patients working with Dr. Norton have not only lost unwanted pounds, they have also gotten off of their cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes medications.  Patients with thyroid disease, MS, autoimmune disease and food-related allergies have found relief and reversed conditions that seemed hopeless by learning how to eat clean and supplement effectively.  So can you. 

I feel dramatically healthier and younger than I did 15 to 20 years ago. Hippocrates said “Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food.” He was right, food is medicine when you know how to find, prep and enjoy it.

Concierge Practice for Eating Disorders and Obesity

Concierge practices are springing up everywhere because they work. There are a number of advantages, the most important being flexibility.  Dr. Norton offers:

  • Flexible session length – from ½ hour to 2 hour sessions
  • Intensive outpatient therapy available for those who want an alternative to residential treatment– 5 to 10 hours per week
  • Flexible appointment times — I offer weekend and evening appointments
  • Phone sessions available – for travelers, students and road warriors
  • Mi casa es su casa – come and cook with me in my kitchen! It’s fun and you’ll learn a lot.

Another advantage of a concierge practice is that you also have more privacy. For example:

  • Self-pay means no insurance, no company reporting.
  • No electronic medical records (EMRs)
  • Dr. Norton meets or exceeds all HIPAA and APA Privacy standards.

On the other hand, if you want to use insurance Dr. Norton provides a managed-care-friendly invoice (documentation for out-of-network benefits) so that you can submit a claim to your insurance carrier by simply sending in the monthly/weekly invoice.

Flexible Payments

  • We accept checks, credit card, HSA or cash
  • Cash and prepayment discounts are also available

Get in Touch with Dr. Norton

The Norton Center
2891 Ziegle Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45208
513 205 6543

  • [1] Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67(10):1025-1032
  • [2] Eur. Eat. Disorders Rev. 9, 229�241 2001)
  • [3] Informal survey of independent treatment providers in the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana area.
  • [4] Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(9):1049-1056 / Psychosom Med. 1987 Jan-Feb;49(1):45-5 / Int J Adolesc Med Health 2002;14(2):269-274 / Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 13(suppl 2): 39–46
  • [5] See Chapter for re-feeding strategies and sample patient charts

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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances.  Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider.  You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.