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About Dr. Susan Head

Duke and Early Career Activities

Dr. Susan Head Psychologist Durham NCDr. Susan Head moved to the Triangle with her family in 1990 to complete her psychology internship at Duke University Medical Center. She received her PhD from Louisiana State University in 1991. Specializing in health psychology, she went on to work at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center (DFC) where she conducted research, led workshops on the behavioral management of obesity and worked individually with clients to help them overcome problems with food and related issues. Working at the DFC gave Susan the opportunity to discover her joy of creating and delivering treatment programs. There she developed the binge eating disorder, relapse prevention and aftercare programs.

In 1998, Dr. Head left the DFC and became the workshop coordinator for William’s Lifeskills, a Durham-based company that trains individuals and groups in how to manage emotions, interact more skillfully and communicate more effectively. At this time she also opened a private practice specializing in eating and weight-related issues, anxiety disorders, depression and relationship counseling. She also began delving more seriously into mindfulness-based practices, using dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. In addition she became trained as a Life Coach. She also continued to speak at workshops and seminars through agencies such as the NC Area Health Education Centers for training therapists and other counseling professionals.

Consulting Activities

In addition to private practice and speaking engagements, Dr. Head also has consulted with other businesses. She worked with the Pritikin Center in Florida, helping them revise their behavioral treatment for obesity. In 2001 she developed a cognitive-behavioral treatment program for the Living Center, another residential weight loss center. And in 2002, she worked with the Institute for Healing in Society and Medicine (IHSM), where she helped physicians reconnect with meaning in their professions through the use of mindfulness.

Current Directions

In 2003, Dr. Head formed a business alliance with her colleague, Dr. Stephanie Nilsen and relocated her practice to 3600 University Dr. in Durham. As part of their alliance, Susan and Stephanie co-authored a workbook, based on their years of combined experience in weight loss, entitled “Winning at Weight-Loss: How to achieve lifelong weight management and physical fitness.”

Dr. Head focuses her private practice on anxiety disorders, depression, life transitions, weight and eating disorders and relationship counseling. This past year she began training with Terrence Real in Relationship Empowerment, an exciting new direction that uses unique strategies to help couples create profoundly satisfying relationships.

Also in 2009 Dr. Head joined the Program on Integrative Medicine at UNC, teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). As a seasoned meditation practitioner, this latest venture marks the intersection of Susan’s personal and professional life. The MBSR program symbolizes the evolution of Susan’s work in the direction of positive psychology—the philosophy that emphasizes our innate strengths as the foundation for improving the quality of our lives.

Personal Interests

Believing that what we do in our “off time” informs and supports our professional life, Susan is involved in a variety of enriching activities outside of work. To support her mindfulness meditation, Susan participates in a local mediation center and attends regular retreats to deepen her practice. Creative expression is also an important part of her life. She is an accomplished painter and also dances regularly. She also enjoys physical activity and social time with friends and family.

Click to see an enlargement of the artwork by Susan.