A feminist psychodynamic group therapy for obese women

Heenan, Colleen (2008) A feminist psychodynamic group therapy for obese women. In: Appearance Matters 3, 2008, University of the West of England. (Submitted)

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Feminist psychodynamic theorists argue that eating problems are not psychiatric disorders or 'slimming diseases' but complex ways in which women negotiate and express their identities within discourses of normality and abnormality. I present material from a 1 year weekly therapy group for obese women, part of a research project headed by Julia Buckroyd at the University of Hertfordshire. This approach adapts aspects of Orbach's 'Fat is a Feminist Issue' therapeutic model for working with compulsive eaters. The group aimed to help women understand how they used food for emotional purposes and to make changes in their diet and lifestyle. I focus on how interweaving psychodynamic and psycho-educational approaches facilitated changes. The therapist works with the concept that much 'misuse' of food stems from its unconscious links with unresolved emotional issues, often exacerbated by gender inequalities. Understanding the connections between socially constructed frameworks of femininity, emotions and bodily sensations, enables articulation of need rather expression through eating. In addition, a psycho-educational approach helps participants bring about practical changes, while a 'buddy' system fosters ongoing support amongst group members. While arguing that a feminist psychodynamic framework is crucial in this type of work, I suggest that it is essential to combine this with cognitive and behavioural therapeutic interventions in order to provide a pedagogic structure in which food, eating and body size come to be seen as meaningful.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: obesity, feminist psychodynamic group psychotherapy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:51
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2014 16:14
URI: http://ubir.bolton.ac.uk/id/eprint/345

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