How the eating disorder therapist's personal experience of an eating disorder influences the therapeutic relationship with clients who have eating disorders: A grounded theory

The demand for eating disorders treatment in BC typically exceeds what is available in existing specialty programs. This service gap is often filled by community psychotherapists. Research indicates that eating disorders among eating disorder treatment professionals far exceeds prevalence rates in the general public. This suggests that there are likely to be therapists working in the field of eating disorders treatment who have recovered from, or who many currently struggle with, an eating disorder. Recovered/recovering eating disorder therapists are ethically obliged to evaluate how their personal experience may influence the therapeutic relationship with the eating disordered patient in helpful or harmful ways. Meris Williams’ research aims to enlarge our understanding of the recovered/recovering eating disorder therapist, especially how the personal history of an eating disorder influences the therapeutic relationship with eating disordered patients. She will conduct extensive interviews with 20 psychotherapists who provide services to patients with an eating disorder, and who themselves have received a diagnosis of an eating disorder. The study’s results can enhance the effectiveness of recovered/recovering eating disorder therapists by helping them assess their readiness to work with eating disordered patients. It can also help ensure that therapists’ personal experience is influencing the therapeutic relationship in a manner that benefits patients. The results could also be used to inform the education, training, and supervision of eating disorder therapists-in-training in BC. Ultimately, this research will help people seeking treatment for an eating disorder.