School for Social Work
This study was undertaken to explore how therapists help their adult, female anorectic clients (who are post-medical stabilization and have committed to some therapeutic level of treatment and recovery) overcome body image issues related to the pursuit of thinness prescribed by Western culture and the media. Through interviews with ten therapists who had extensive experience working with anorectic women in recovery, this exploratory study examined clinicians' experiences with clients' body image issues and chief complaints, their strategies for treating the body image disturbance in their clients, their perceptions of what factors help someone to fully recover and what the most powerful messages are that someone who is fully recovered takes away, and finally their experience with treatment issues regarding women of color. The findings revealed that therapists reported being "blended" in their psychological orientations, using a variety of interventions simultaneously – thus approaching the complex construct of body image in anorexia from multiple angles. The study also unveiled a creative range of 22 different interventions and approaches that therapists found helpful in approaching body image healing in anorexia. Finally some therapists believed strongly that there are specific issues pertaining to race, ethnicity and the legacy of racism that are unique to the treatment of body image in women of color with anorexia.
Light, Holly G., ""I feel fat" : how do therapists help recovering female anorectic clients overcome body image issues?" (2009). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.