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Feminist Therapy And Anorexia Nervosa Essay

1697 words - 7 pages

Abstract This study investigates whether feminist therapy is more effective for treating anorexia nervosa in women than cognitive behavioral therapy. The effectiveness of the therapy was determined by a survey which was sent out six months after the therapy was terminated and evaluated the condition of each woman in comparison with the diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-IV. The results indicated that the women who participated in feminist therapy did not significantly differ from the other women in terms of recovery. The findings do not support the ideas in the literature on feminist therapy, although no specific research has been done linking feminist therapy to anorexia nervosa.The Effectiveness of Feminist Therapy on Anorexia Nervosa Millions of women in the United States suffer from eating disorders. Protinsky and Marek (1997) found that the majority of all college-aged women exhibit some of the symptoms of primary anorexia or bulimia. This study will focus solely on anorexia nervosa in women and it's treatment. According to the DSM-IV (1994), a woman is diagnosed as having anorexia when she refuses to maintain even a minimal body weight, suffers from an intense fear of gaining weight despite being dangerously underweight, and ceases having her menstrual periods. Currently the most common form of therapy used to treat anorexia is cognitive-behavioral therapy coupled with medication (Protinsky & Marek, 1997). However the emergence of feminist therapy in mainstream practices and hospital settings seems to be a much more promising treatment for this disorder. According to Arkinstall (1995), a feminist therapist does not view or treat her client as a woman with a personal defect or dysfunctional thinking, but as an equal who has unhealthy methods of coping. This one facet of feminist therapy promises to increase the low self-esteem of women with anorexia. Hill's (1990) study confirms this idea by stressing the importance of a woman knowing that she is acceptable when the rest of society labels her as abnormal. Through this process, the client can regain power and self-esteem.On the other hand, Steiner-Adair (1991) comments that cognitive behavioral therapy often rests on the concept that the client has faulty thinking processes or an internal defect. It does not address the many external factors which influence women's lives such as race, class, and sexual orientation. Steiner-Adair (1991) also mentions that cognitive behavioral therapy often ignores the symptoms of anorexia by trying to immediately get rid of them. Garner, Vitousek, and Pike (1997) confirm this information by stating that the very first step in this type of therapy is immediate weight gain. Often times the weight gain is forced through tube feedings. However, feminist therapy takes a much different approach. A feminist therapist encourages her clients to discover the meaning behind their behavior and the function it serves in their lives. So initially, the behavior is not...

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