Meet Our Founder - Dr. Anita Johnston
Many years ago, I was supervising a young intern researching the incidence of eating disorders in Hawaii. As we discussed the problems we were seeing, we found ourselves saying, “There is a really big problem here. There should be a center to help those struggling.”
So, in 1982 we created the Anorexia & Bulimia Center of Hawaii, where individuals of all ages, all sizes and shapes, all ethnicities, and all kinds of struggles with eating and body image could come for treatment.
Since then, I have seen thousands of individuals totally, completely recover from eating disorders. I have dedicated my career to helping those with eating difficulties: in my private practice, by writing Eating in the Light of the Moon (which has been published in six languages), through the creation of treatment programs around the world, by speaking in conferences internationally and across the county, and through online courses at the Light of the Moon Café.
It is important to me that those who struggle with eating disorders and those who treat them, receive the message that with proper treatment, and by addressing the underlying issues, it is totally possible to fully recover from an eating disorder.
In 1986, I developed Hawaii’s first in-patient eating disorders treatment program at Kahi Mohala Hospital. In 2001, I created, Ai Pono, the first free standing Eating Disorders Intensive Out-Patient Program (EDIOP) in the country in Honolulu. After many years of sending those in need of a higher level of care to treatment centers off-island, I had the opportunity to create Hawaii’s first residential treatment program on Maui (Ai Pono Hawaii) in 2012, in a beautiful eight bed home-like ocean front setting.
Although my intent was to serve those seeking treatment without having to leave the Hawaiian islands, I discovered that there were also those who were willing to travel across the Pacific Ocean in search of a small, healing setting, conducive to healing, where they could receive the highly individualized treatment approach we offer: one that holds the patient’s struggle with the utmost respect, that understands there is deep meaning to their struggle and endeavors to help them uncover that meaning, and one where they can learn the skills they need for total and complete recovery.
Today Ai Pono Hawaii offers multiple levels of treatment on several islands, both residential and out-patient. Each program accepts a small number of clients, with a caring, empathetic staff that I have trained in my approach and is as dedicated as I am to healing the suffering that comes with having an eating disorder.
I know the courage it takes to seek treatment and that entering a program is a difficult step. At Ai Pono Hawaii we support you in solving the mystery of your eating disorder and in developing the necessary skills you need for long-term recovery. I know that healing is possible.
With Warmest Aloha,
Anita Johnston, Ph.D.