Flinders University’s Joanne Zhou and Breakthrough donor and Research Committee member Mario Corena.

Lauren Corena lost her life. But her legacy is now paving the way for the development of new and effective treatments for eating disorders.

Her family have generously donated to Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation to establish a PhD top up scholarship in Lauren’s name.

It was recently awarded to Flinders University’s Joanne Zhou to investigate the effectiveness of ‘imagery rescripting’ as a treatment for eating disorders

Imagery rescripting has previously been used as a technique in cognitive behaviour therapy for other mental disorders, but never before in relation to anorexia nervosa.

It aims to rescript negative memories in order to modify negative core beliefs.

“For instance, a person might have been teased in the past about their body weight or appearance and gradually developed a belief that they are not attractive and therefore not lovable,” Joanne explains.

“But we’re investigating whether imagery rescripting can help rescript those negative memories in a self-compassionate way, and consequently modify those negative core beliefs.

“If it’s shown to be effective, imagery rescripting could improve the current state of eating disorders treatment outcomes.”

With eating disorders a life-threatening condition affecting more than one million Australians, Joanne says new research is vital.

“The need for effective interventions to combat poor body image, and consequently alleviate disordered eating behaviours and eating disorders, is more crucial than ever before.

“I am so grateful that I had the honour to meet with Lauren’s father, Mario, who shared with me his passion in supporting research in eating disorders and his personal experience of a loved one battling with an eating disorder.”

Lauren took her own life at the age of 26 after years of battling mental health issues, including an eating disorder. Mario said a research scholarship was one of the best ways he could think to keep her spirit alive.

“Despite all Lauren’s battles she completed a double degree in psychology and was committed to her studies and helping those with mental health issues,” Mario says.

“So supporting Joanne in her research and studies really aligns with Lauren’s passion.

“It’s a lot to ask of Joanne and her fellow researchers but I hope this support enables them to make some inroads into understanding eating disorders to help people like Lauren in future.”

If you’re interested in supporting mental health research in an area you’re passionate about, speak with the Breakthrough team on (08) 8204 3017 or Donate now.

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