BiographyDr. Mary Tantillo is a Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Tantillo is a fellow and previous board member of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED). She served as chairperson for the AED Credentialing Task Force and as co-chairperson for the AED Patient/Carer Committee and was awarded the Meehan-Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy by the AED in 2010.
Since 2005 Dr. Tantillo has been the Director of the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (WNYCCCED), one of three NY State Office of Mental Health-funded CCCED’s. As part of this work she and the WNYCCCED team initiated Project ECHO® Eating Disorders in January 2017 and School-Based Project ECHO® Eating Disorders in 2018. Project ECHO® provides primary care, behavioral health care, and college health care practitioners, and school personnel with case-based telementoring and teleeducation related to best practices for early identification, assessment, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders.
Additionally, in 2010 Dr. Tantillo founded The Healing Connection (THC), a free-standing, NY State Office of Mental Health-licensed Eating Disorders Facility for adults and adolescents in Fairport, NY. In 2013 she transitioned the program into a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation. THC is now based in Rochester, NY and is home to a full outpatient arm of eating disorder services including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient clinic treatment. Dr. Tantillo was the Clinical Director of THC till 2015 and CEO till 2016. She continues to serve as the permanent founding board member and conducts relational therapy and multifamily therapy groups in the partial hospitalization program.
Dr. Tantillo has special clinical and research interests in the areas of prevention, women's mental health, group treatment, and family-based treatment for eating disorders. Over the past 10 years she partnered with patients and families to develop a new and innovative relationally and motivationally-informed multifamlly therapy group approach to treating Anorexia Nervosa in young adults called “Reconnecting for Recovery.” Dr. Tantillo obtained grant funding from the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation, the University of Rochester School of Nursing and the NY State Department of Health to pilot this intervention. Pilot study findings, in addition to previous research findings, clinical observation, theory, and the lived experience of patients and families in the group, informed the development of a newly released treatment manual from Routledge, Multifamily Therapy Group for Young Adults with Anorexia Nervosa: Reconnecting for Recovery.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Group therapy for eating disorders
Multifamily therapy for eating disorders
Relational-Cultural Theory and Therapy for eating disorders
Being outdoors - hiking, nature walking, canoeing, kayaking
Playing with our dogs
Organizing charity events, e.g., annual haunted walk for charity
A pilot study of multifamily therapy group for young adults with anorexia nervosa: Reconnecting for recovery
Published: May 31, 2019 by International Journal of Eating Disorders
Authors: Mary Tantillo PhD, Jennifer Sanftner McGraw PhD, Holly McGregor Lavigne PhD, Judith Brasch MS RN, & Daniel Le Grange PhD
In this article we tested the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effect sizes on outcome measures of Reconnecting for Recovery (R4R) Multifamily Therapy Group for young adults with anorexia nervosa (n = 10 patients and 14 family members). All participants and 12 family members were retained, and the majority found R4R acceptable. Findings provide preliminary evidence that R4R is feasible, acceptable, and produces clinically significant changes in targeted outcomes.
Partnering with patients and families to develop an innovative multifamily therapy group treatment for adults with anorexia nervosa
Published: Jun 05, 2015 by Advances in Eating Disorders: Theory, Research and Practice
Authors: Mary Tantillo PhD, Jennifer Sanftner McGraw PhD, Emily J. Hauenstein PhD, & Susan W. Groth PhD
This post-treatment qualitative retrospective study (of focus groups) engaged Multifamily Therapy Group (MFTG) alumni (5 young adults and 12 family members) as co-investigators in development and evaluation of a new and innovative Relational/Motivational model of MFTG (MFTG-RM). Findings suggested the potential promise of MFTG-RM in leveraging its strong therapeutic community to restore intra-and interpersonal connections and foster recovery.
Restoring connection in the face of disconnection: an integrative approach to understanding and treating anorexia nervosa
Published: Feb 28, 2013 by Advances in Eating Disorders: Theory, Research and Practice
Authors: Mary Tantillo PhD, Jennifer Sanftner PhD, & Emily Hauenstein PhD
This article explores the role of disconnection as a mediating process that creates the conditions for the development of anorexia nervosa and its intractability with regard to treatment. Intra- and interpersonal processes contributing to disconnections characterizing AN are described. An integrative model of disconnection is presented and is followed by a description of a Relational/Motivational Multifamily Therapy that specifically identifies and repairs the disconnections associated with AN.
Measuring Perceived Mutuality in Women With Eating Disorders: The Development of the Connection-Disconnection Scale
Published: Jul 01, 2010 by Journal of Nursing Measurement
Authors: Mary Tantillo PhD & Jennifer L. Sanftner PhD
Subjects: Research Methods
This article describes development and psychometric testing of the Connection-Disconnection Scale (CDS), the only self-report measure designed to assess perceived mutuality experienced in close relationships by women with eating disorders (n=131 outpatient and n=85 partial hospitalization patients). Findings revealed that the CDS is a reliable and valid measure of perceived mutuality that can enrich relational understanding of the etiology and treatment of eating disorders in women.