Feminist Approach to Behavioral Therapy for Adolescent Females with Eating Disorders S. Devon Walsh
Loyola University New Orleans
The present article reviews contemporary literature on the related factors and interventions for adolescent girls with eating disorders. The incidence of eating disorders continues to rise amongst adolescent girls yet an effective intervention still fails to exist. Contemporary research links the sociocultural, biological, and physiological factors that put adolescent girls at such a high risk for the development of eating disorders. However, a gap in the literature remains in terms of what interventions work best for adolescent girls with eating disorders. Based on reviewing the literature, I present a feminist approach to the six core processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as an intervention specifically for adolescent girls with eating disorders. Keywords: eating disorders, adolescent girls, feminist theory, ACT
Feminist Approach to Behavioral Therapy for Adolescent Girls with Eating Disorders Eating disorders, illnesses that cause serious disturbances in one’s every day diet (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2013), rank as the third most common mental disorder (Martin, 2007), and account for the highest mortality rates among all psychological disorders (Peterson, Paulson, & Williams, 2007). Eating disorders represent a public health concern because they entail chronicity, suicide attempts (Fennig & Hadas, 2010), functional impairment (Swanson, Crow, Le Grange, Swendsen, & Merikangas, 2010), morbidity, as well as significant comorbidity with other psychological disorders (e.g., depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders; Hudson et al. 2006). Eating disorders can affect any individual, however adolescent girls and young women, ages 12-25, account for a large majority at over 90% of all cases in the U.S. (National Eating Disorder Associations [NEDA], 2014). The onset of eating disorders typically occurs in adolescence (Fennig & Hadas, 2010). Several factors account for adolescent girls’ high vulnerability to the development of eating disorders (Peterson et al., 2007), including: sociocultural pressures (Bordo, 2003; Knauss, Paxton, & Alsaker, 2007; Pritchard & Cramblitt, 2014), biological predispositions (Klump, Burt, McGue, & Iacono, 2007) and the many physical and cognitive changes associated with puberty (Baker, Thorton, Lichtenstein, & Bulik, 2012; Culbert, Burt, McGue, Iacono, & Klump, 2009). Each of these factors play a critical role in the development of EDs unique to adolescent girls alone (Lapp & LeCroy, 2006; Peterson et al, 2007). A large amount of the recent research on the development of eating disorders emphasizes the influence of sociocultural pressures and its role in the development of body image and eating disorders. Western culture’s current obsession with equating thinness in women to beauty and success (Bordo, 2003; Martin, 2007; Peterson et al., 2007) ingrains unhealthy images of what constitutes a beautiful female body (Meyer, Fallah, & Wood, 2011). Models continue to grow thinner and more discrepant from the average woman (Jung, Forbes, & Lee, 2009). Today a majority of the models and celebrities portrayed by the media fall 15% below the average weight of women (Hawkins, Richards, Granley, & Stein, 2004; Martin, 2010; Pritchard & Cramblitt, 2014), ironically this depicts a major characteristic for anorexia nervosa (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2012). Although men also face unrealistic standards of appearance, the media confronts women with ideal appearance standards more frequently and explicitly (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2004; Knauss, et al., 2007; Peterson et al., 2007). Consequently, women internalize media body ideals at a much greater rate (Juarez, Soto, & Pritchard, 2012). Knauss et al., 2007) resulting in significantly higher levels of body dissatisfaction (Hargreaves & Tiggemann,...
References: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Bordeau, W. C., Briggs, M. K., Staton, A. R., & Wasik, S. Z. (2008). Feminism lives on: Incorporating contemporary feminism into counseling practice with families and youth. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education & Development, 47(1), 42-55.
Bordo, S. (2003). Unbearable weight: Feminism, Western culture, and the body. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Clay, D., Vignoles, V. L., & Dittmar, H. (2005). Body image and self-esteem among adolescent girls: Testing the influence of sociocultural factors. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 15(4), 451-477. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2005.00107.x
Easter, M. M. (2012). “Not all my fault”: Genetics, stigma, and personal responsibility for women with eating disorders. Social Science & Medicine, 75(8), 1408-1416. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.05.042
Fennig, S., & Hadas, A. (2010). Suicidal behavior and depression in adolescents with eating disorders. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 64, 32-39. doi: 10.3109/08039480903265751
Hofmann, S. G., & Asmundson, G. G. (2008). Acceptance and mindfulness-based therapy: New wave or old hat?. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(1), 1-16. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2007.09.003
Jung, J., Forbes, G., & Lee, Y. (2009). Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among early adolescents from Korea and the US. Sex Roles, 61(12), 42-54. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9609-5
Martin, C.E. (2007).Perfect girls, starving daughters: The frightening new normalcy of hating your body. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Martin, J. (2010). The development of ideal body image perceptions in the United States. Nutrition Today, 45(3), 98-112. doi:10.1097/NT.0b013e3181dec6a2
National Institute of Mental Health. (2013) Eating Disorders. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/index.shtml
Peterson, R. D., Grippo, K. P., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2008). Empowerment and powerlessness: A closer look at the relationship between feminism, body image and eating disturbance. Sex Roles, 58(9), 639-648. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9377-z
Posner, R. B. (2006). Early menarche: A review of research on trends in timing, racial differences, etiology and psychosocial consequences. Sex Roles, 54(6), 315-322. doi:10.1007/s11199-006-9003-5
Pritchard, M., & Cramblitt, B
Rubin, L. R., Nemeroff, C. J., & Russo, N. F. (2004). Exploring feminist women 's body consciousness. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28(1), 27-37. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2004.00120.x
Sandoz, E., Wilson, K., & Dufrene, T
Smith, D., Wright, C., Ross, N., & Warmington, S. (2006). Sports advertising and body image. In M. V. Kindes (Ed.), Body Image: New research (pp. 63-77). Hauppauge, NY, US: Nova Science Publishers.
Todd, L. (2006). Treating women with eating disorders. In C. Henderson, C. Smith, S. Smith, & A. Stevens (Eds.), Women and psychiatric treatment (pp. 172-184). New York, NY: Routledge.
Tolman, D. L., Impett, E. A., Tracy, A. J., & Michael, A. (2006). Looking good, sounding good: Femininity ideology and adolescent girls ' mental health. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30(1), 85-95. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2006.00265.x
Whalen, M., Fowler-Lese, K. P., Barber, J. S., Williams, E. N., Judge, A. B., Nilsson, J. E., & Shibazaki, K. (2004). Counseling practice with feminist-multicultural perspectives. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 32(2), 379-389.
Williams, E. N., & Barber, J. S. (2004). Power and responsibility in therapy: Integrating feminism and multiculturalism. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 32, 390-401.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document