Title

Eating Disorder Clinicians: From Personal Recovery to Supporting Others

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2012

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel

Abstract

This qualitative study examined the experiences of clinicians at an eating disorder clinic who are recovered from their own eating disorders. The literature covered topics such as eating disorder types and symptoms, etiology, onset and duration, causes and risk factors, treatment interventions, therapeutic alliance, self-disclosure and burnout. The research questions for this study were: (1) What are the experiences of clinicians who treat clients with eating disorders after having recovered from their own? (2) How much self-disclosure is appropriate in the therapeutic relationship? (3) What type of accountability or support is in place for the clinician to be prepared for triggers or other emotions that may come up in sessions to prevent relapse? The research conducted for this study involved in-depth interviews of eight clinicians working in the same eating disorder agency who all self-identified as having had an eating disorder. The data was analyzed using open coding and developed into eight themes. The themes included: (a) body image acceptance, (b) views on the terms “recovered” versus “in recovery,” (c) a desire to provide hope, (d) perceived higher levels of compassion, empathy and/or understanding, (e) approaching self-disclosure carefully, (f) lack of countertransference around the eating disorder, (g) agency support and use of humor and (h) the importance of self care to avoid burnout. Implications for future practice included agency emphasis on staff self-care, vacation time, consultation, ongoing trainings, staff retreats and support groups. Implications for future research included a larger-scale study with more specific questions, lack of a time limit, and more diversity among participants. Implications for policy included listening to the voices of recovered clinicians in order to gain perspective and understanding on the best treatment for clients with eating disorders.

Keywords

eating disorders, clinicians, recovery, self-disclosure, countertransference, burnout, self-care, body image

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.