Training Programs

ACORN Food Addiction Professional Training

ACORN Food Dependency & Recovery Services administers the Food Addiction Professional Training. This is a three-year experiential program focused on learning food addiction recovery from the inside-out, assisting experienced food addiction professionals, and developing ways to make a unique contribution to food addicts and the field of food addiction.

Minimum Requirements

Two residential intensives with other professional trainees each year; a weekly recovery and professional support meeting by phone; two years of stable recovery in food (one year before assisting and two years before certification); completion of a detailed history of personal powerless over food or another addiction; and thirty days of supervised assistance and completion of a professional competence demonstration.

Program History

The Food Addiction Professional Training program began when a graduate student in addiction studies (Delores Proto) was searching for an internship in food addiction. She had done a previous practicum for alcoholism and drug addiction in a hospital-based chemical dependency treatment center, but there were no such programs for food addiction. Since ACORN’s Primary Intensive© was developed to offer the experience of residential recovery from food addiction, she asked if she could do an internship using ACORN’s Primary Intensive©. As a result, a training program was developed. This program follows the philosophy of staff training at Glenbeigh Psychiatric Hospital’s residential eating disorder and food addiction treatment program. The trainees participate in the program first as clients, second as assistants to experienced staff members, and then as co-professionals while demonstrating their professional competency working to work on their own. Delores Proto, MA, underwent this program over a three-year period, and became its first certified graduate. She went on to develop her own private practice, Gladness Recovery House, and her own creative contributions to the field of food addiction.

Program Phases
There are three year-long segments to the training:

Phase One: 2 intensives; weekly support call; a year of food abstinence; work on unresolved mental, emotional and spiritual issues; complete a detailed description of powerlessness over food or another addiction.

Phase Two: 2 intensives; weekly support call; two years of stable food abstinence; 12 papers relating to food addiction theory to practice; ongoing recovery work as needed; and 30 days assisting a food addiction professional.

Phase Three: 2 intensives; weekly support call – facilitating for Living in Abstinence and newer members of training; developing and implementing a project that demonstrates unique abilities and competence as a food addiction professional.

Program Enrollment

Enrollment is on an annual basis. Some take more than a calendar year to complete the requirement of each phase of the program. There is a Living in Abstinence program for those who want to participate in the structured year-long support for their recovery during phase one without planning to necessarily complete the other two phases of the program.

Program Director

Philip Werdell, MA is the Director of the Professional Food Addiction Training Program.

Teaching Experience: Since 1972, Mr. Werdell has taught counseling, writing, group work, and other human service courses at the undergraduate and graduate level at variety of colleges and universities, including the College for Human Services, Campus-Free College, College of New Rochelle’s School of New Resources, New Hampshire College, Sarasota University, Manatee Community College, and Springfield College.

Professional Experience: Mr. Werdell has worked with over 4000 food addicts at the Glenbeigh Psychiatric Hospital of Tampa’s residential food addiction treatment program; the Rader Institute of Washington’s out-patient eating disorder program; ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services; and in his private practice.

Publications: Mr. Werdell’s food addiction publications include Beyond Ordinary Eating Disorders: Food Addiction in the IAEDP Clinical Forum; Food Addiction Recovery: A New Model for Professional Support; The ACORN Primary Intensive Handbook; Bariatric Surgery and Food Addiction: Preoperative Considerations; and Physical Craving and Food Addiction: A Scientific Review for FAI.

Education and Honors: BA Yale University, Scholar of the House; President of Torch Honor Society; MA, Beacon College, Human Service and Higher Education; Corning Fellowship; Fulbright Fellowship; post-graduate study at Columbia University, University of South Florida; Certified Food Addiction Counselor, Glenbeigh Psychiatric Hospital of Tampa.

ACORN Food Addiction Professional Training Program: Box 50126, Sarasota, Florida, 34232; Phone: 941 378 2122; Fax 941 342 7414;


About:  a 19-week course leading to Certification as an International Food Addiction Counselor (IFAC).

The annual training starts in January and is taught in English and  is designed for professionals in the health and social sectors. These include addiction counselors, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, nurses and physicians, and all others interested in advancing their knowledge in this field.

The following is general program information:

•  18 weekly three to four-hour sessions held on Saturdays at 8 am US-EST on Zoom online (Live meeting format, with picture and sound). This is followed with 4 monthly Clinical Supervision sessions for the group.
•  an OPTIONAL 5-day ACORN/MFM intensive in Iceland, usually in February.
•  Those completing the requirements and examination for INFACT, can apply for a Certificate from NBRCB (NORDIC/BALTIC REGINAL CERIFICATION BOARD) as FAC: FOOD ADDICTION COUNSELOR.
•  Graduates from INFACT are already being hired as FACs in a variety of facilities.

Subjects addressed in the training:

Basic knowledge of substance and process addiction, specifically overeating and food abuse and dependency. Clinical intake, screening, assessing and setting up individualized treatment plans. Different counseling techniques, food and abstinence programs, trauma, prevention, education, relapse prevention, 12 step-recovery, codependency and the family, ethics and biology.

INFACT website:


Contact the Director of Training, Esther Helga Gudmundsdottir
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +354-699-2676
Skype: estherhelga

Some quotes from students:
• “I found the school a wealth of experience and knowledge on the subject of food addiction”.
• “I found most important and great help the lectures from different teachers”.
• “I enjoyed the experience and times spent with other students in the study groups, along with the learning in the Saturday lessons”.
• “… In addition, the training really enhanced my own recovery from food addiction and overall understanding of the disease of addiction”.
• “I found it very interesting to learn a great deal more about and to better understand and appreciate the complexity of counseling and treating food addiction”.

Current Teachers: The Teachers are an Interdisciplinary group of Professionals in the field of Food Abuse and Dependency Treatment: Philip Werdell MA, USA, Bitten Jonsson MS, Sweden, Vera Tarman MD, Canada, Marty Lerner, PhD. USA, Theresa Wright, MS USA, Mary Foushi, USA, Esther H. Guðmundsdóttir MSc., Iceland.