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"Expert by Experience"

What I am: An Expert by Experience on eating disorders, peer mentoring, parenting, and life, and a professional educator with deep experience and training as a volunteer peer coach/mentor and peer educator.


What I am not: A licensed medical professional, therapist, counselor or social worker.


Life as the Best Teacher


Growing up in a chaotic home with the reality of dealing with adult concerns at an early age, I also had the gift of babysitting for some wonderful and healthy families starting from the age of 12. My nature is to observe and study, and I set out to mindfully build a future for myself that looked like these loving, functional homes. I was successful (and lucky) in doing so and have been married to my wonderful husband for 32 years; we have four adult children and a grandson – we are a close-knit, imperfectly perfect fulfillment of my childhood yearning and I have broken a long chain of generational dysfunction. I learned from this experience that education and drive and skills-building are powerful forces and accessing them is life-altering. Friends, family, colleagues and my students have long sought out my guidance and mentorship on topics from parenting to education and work to navigating difficult relationships, and seeing people move forward in their own lives with new strength, strategies and resilience is my passion.

Crisis as a Transformative Experience


In 2012, the youngest of our four children was 17 and a senior in high school when she developed anorexia, a strongly genetic, neurobiological illness. It was our great geographic fortune to live in San Diego and immediately access cutting edge treatment at the University of California San Diego and our daughter is thriving today. The lessons learned in walking through the devastation of an eating disorders diagnosis, and the success we had with evidence-based treatment, drove me to become active in peer support and advocacy. My early life lessons combined with the education I’ve pursued and embraced through our treatment program, reading research, befriending other experts in the parent and clinical communities and attending conferences (and becoming an Expert by Experience presenter at them), have empowered me to empower others to navigate the recovery journey for their own loved ones with evidence-based information and personal connections that hold the power to improve outcomes and save time, money, energy and quality of life.


Tying It All Together


In late 2018 the college where I worked as an administrator closed unexpectedly, putting my life and career at a crossroads and this gave me the push I needed to embrace my “Expert by Experience” title and formalize a career in peer coaching – what I already do both in the eating disorders world and with general life and parenting navigation guidance. My toolkit draws from countless life lessons in many arenas, my formal education, and the skills learned from top clinicians via dialectical behavioral therapy and motivational inquiry and peer mentor training. I was texting with a friend as I was building this website and she suggested I include, “Something about listening and connecting and truly understanding. Compassionate, open-minded and honest.” It’s good to hear I am doing what I strive to with my fellow humans – provide non-judgmental, honest, compassionate dialogue and comprehensive resources to help people discover and own their best possible path for their unique situation.


I believe I can be of assistance to most people in many situations and help them to help themselves and their loved ones and I would love to have the chance to connect with you.


JD Ouellette

P.S. Please read more about my specific
qualifications in regards to eating disorders
on the Full Metal Apron Coaching page

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