Regional Bariatric Care Profile: Meet Dr. Julie Riendeau

Dr. Julie Riendeau is a psychologist at the Regional Bariatric Care Centre (RBCC).

Throughout the month of November we are highlighting staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a key role in bariatric care. Today, we’re sharing a Q & A from Dr. Julie Riendeau, a psychologist at the Regional Bariatric Care Centre (RBCC).

What does it take to be a psychologist?

To practice as a psychologist in Ontario, a doctoral degree in psychology is required. Beyond the educational training, psychologists are generally open-minded (non-judgmental), patient, empathic, and active listeners. They also demonstrate effective communication and problem-solving skills and have a commitment to lifelong learning.

What inspired you to work in bariatrics?

The number of psychologists specializing in bariatric care is relatively small. Moving into this role was an opportunity to work in a unique area of practice for psychology. It offered me the ability to support patients in making behaviour and lifestyle changes in the spirit of improving mental and physical health.

What is unique about your role?

I’m privileged to work with a diverse team of colleagues, all lending their expertise to providing care to patients. In my role, I focus on the emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of our patients’ experiences. As a psychologist, I work to educate patients about the importance of prioritizing attention on their emotional, psychological, and social well-being in their efforts at weight management.

How does your role impact patient care?

When it comes to weight loss and long-term weight management, the “eat less and exercise more” approach generally doesn’t work. Weight is complex. People often don’t consider that weight management isn’t about willpower (or lack thereof). Weight management involves identifying the factors that are within personal control, while recognizing that many factors are beyond personal control. My work with patients brings attention to the psychological factors that can interfere with efforts to maintain consistency in lifestyle habits.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle is part of your daily messaging to patients. Do you have any personal tips on how to stay healthy?

Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to manage our mental and physical health. The amount and quality of sleep we get each night can impact the way our immune system functions, boost our mood, help with weight management and much more. Getting consistent and high-quality sleep can improve all aspects of our health.

Any final thoughts?

Consider practicing self-compassion by treating yourself kindly through difficult and challenging times. Remember, challenges are a part of the shared human experience.