Therapeutic alliance is often highlighted in studies looking at treatment effectiveness, both in and beyond the realm of eating disorder therapy. Evidently, there are a number of factors that can impact how well we get along with our therapists, ranging from disagreements with the course of treatment or type of therapy to a simple, unnamable dislike for the person. But what about their appearance? What kind of impact could a therapist’s body size have on the therapy relationship?
Rance, Clarke & Moller (2014) sought out to investigate this issue, looking specifically at how clients evaluate therapists’ body size and speculate on their relationship with food, with an eye to determine what impact this might have on the therapeutic process.
I was immediately drawn to this study when I was browsing the latest literature; I wondered why this hadn’t been studied before. In some ways it seems obvious; we’re bound to compare ourselves with others, social beings that we are. So when looking at the therapeutic alliance, it would be illogical to assume that physical appearance could be left …
Studying, as I do, in a department of family relations, I have become interested in family relationships and parenting. Accordingly, I have begun to take note of interesting studies that link family dynamics and parenting with eating disorders, including studies that look at the sibling relationship (as I wrote about here), family-based treatment, and motherhood/fatherhood in the context of eating disorders.
The literature appears to have shifted, lately, from a focus on “eating-disorder generating” families toward an acknowledgement of the complex family dynamics that can play into the development and treatment of eating disorders. A move away from mother- or family-blaming discourses is essential, I would argue, to gaining a better understanding of the lived experience of eating disorders for individuals and families alike.
Accordingly, I was pleased to stumble across an article by Tuval-Mashiach et al. (2013) that used a qualitative approach to explore the experiences of mothers with eating disorders. The authors suggest that their study helps to fill a gap in the literature surrounding how mothers experience the intersections between their motherhood roles, their …
The experiences of siblings of individuals with eating disorders has received relatively little space in the academic literature to date. Several studies have revealed the disruptions in family life that can occur when a child has an eating disorder (for example, see Hillege, Beale & McMaster, 2005 and Perkins et al., 2004). On the other hand, some studies have shown that siblings of patients with chronic illnesses have both positive (personal growth, responsibility, increased empathy) as well as negative (worry, fear, resentment) experiences.
However, few studies have explored experiences of male siblings, older siblings, or siblings of adolescents with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Consequently, to help fill this gap, Areemit, Katzman, Pinhas & Kaufman (2010) conducted a mixed-methods study looking at experiences and quality of life among siblings of adolescents with eating disorders.
Twenty siblings were recruited from The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. All lived with their ill sibling (hereafter AED for “adolescent with an eating disorder”, as they were called in the study), who had been diagnosed at least 3 months prior, …
While there is growing recognition that (surprise, surprise!) men are not immune to eating disorders, men are still underrepresented in the literature about eating disorders. We know comparatively little about what it is like to be a man with an eating disorder, and less still about recovery and life after recovery for these individuals. Recently, Björk, Wallin, & Pettersen (2012) conducted a qualitative study that asked men who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder and completed treatment to describe how recovery factors into their present lives. The researchers interviewed 15 men aged 19-52 (mean age 23) in Norway and Sweden, 10 of whom had been diagnosed with AN, 4 with BN, and 1 with EDNOS. The authors did not specify duration of illness.
The authors used a phenomenographical approach to study recovery among men. Though I am familiar with qualitative methods, this approach was new to me. From what I gather, phenomenography is an approach that focuses on a particular phenomenon (in this case, recovery from an eating disorder), and the similarities and differences in how …
Navigating health service systems can seem daunting, to say the least. Making phone calls, getting doctor appointments and referrals, attending intake appointments, and preparing oneself for treatment can be both mentally and physically draining. When children and adolescents develop eating disorders, their parents become the main navigators in this scenario, making decisions and arrangements for their under-18-year-olds. But what happens when these adolescents reach the age of 18, and still require and/or desire treatment?
A recent Canadian qualitative study by Gina Dimitropoulos and colleagues (2013) explored the transition between pediatric and adult treatment for eating disorders to identify ways to facilitate smooth and effective transitions. To explore the tensions surrounding transitions, the authors conducted focus groups with service providers from both pediatric and adult treatment programs, as well as interviews with community practitioners.
This study used grounded theory (more in-depth discussion here), a qualitative approach that aims to develop a theory to explain a particular phenomenon based on an analysis of rich descriptions (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). As Strauss & Corbin articulate, this methodology aims to represent participants’ voices as accurately …
The idea of including dance and movement in interventions for eating disorders may seem somewhat controversial; generally, exercise and physical activity are discouraged for individuals recovering from eating disorders. Including dance in therapeutic interventions might raise a few eyebrows given the links between appearance-oriented athletic endeavors such as ballet and gymnastics and the development of eating disorders.
However, some therapists and scholars interested in alternative therapies for eating disorders have suggested that certain forms of movement therapy may help individuals with eating disorders connect to their bodies in a different, more positive way.
In 2011, two such scholars from Portugal, Padrão & Coimbra, published a 6-month pilot intervention for individuals hospitalized for anorexia nervosa (AN) based around body movement.
Data consisted of observations of free movement and conversations that came up during and after the sessions. Their sample size consisted of only 7 young women hospitalized for anorexia.
I’ll admit that despite years of dance training and a keen interest in the potential of dance therapy in mental health treatment, I was skeptical of this study from the start. …
Dear Science of Eating Disorders readers, please welcome Andrea, our newest contributor! Below is her introduction and first post.
Hello SEDs readers, my name is Andrea and I’m excited to be contributing to the blog. I have an undergraduate degree in sociology and I am currently a Masters student studying family relations and human development. My research is looking at the experiences of young women in recovery from eating disorders, and uses qualitative methods including narrative interviews and digital stories to explore stories of eating disorders and recovery. I am particularly interested in stories that fall outside of the “norm,” as I feel that we sometimes hear a limited, scripted story of what it means to be someone who has had and recovered from an eating disorder.
I myself am recovered from ED-NOS, and I am happy to be making meaning from my experiences by exploring eating disorders in an academic way. I hope to be able to add my voice to the conversation–I’ll be looking mainly at the qualitative literature on eating disorders, their treatment, and recovery. You can …