Matters of Appearance: Eating Disorder Patients’ Interpretations of Therapists’ Bodies

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; … Continue reading →

Interpreting Anti-Obesity Campaigns with a History of Disordered Eating

Advertisements bemoaning the evils of obesity, begging us to eat healthier and to exercise, surround us every day. Big corporations and governments alike have jumped on the anti-obesity bandwagon, crafting public service announcements aimed at correcting what is being framed as an epidemic. For many, these messages are likely generic reminders to strive for health, if they are noticed at all. But what about individuals with eating disorders? A recent (2012) study by Catling & Malson (full text available here) looked into how a group of women with a history of disordered eating interpreted anti-obesity messages.

I was particularly drawn to this article, having personally felt rage at some of the overly simplified messages that circulate around obesity and “health.” Particularly when I was early in recovery, I often felt as though I was swimming against the current in my attempts to do just the opposite to what these … Continue reading →