A feminist psychotherapeutic approach to working with women who eat compulsively

Heenan, Colleen (2005) A feminist psychotherapeutic approach to working with women who eat compulsively. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 5 (3). pp. 238-245. ISSN 1473-3145

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Feminist psychoanalytic theorists argue that eating problems demonstrate ways in which conscious and unconscious gendered feelings about women are split off and projected onto their bodies. As such, they are complex ways in which women attempt to negotiate and express their identities within their paradoxical social position in contemporary western society. They are not just consumers but also objects of consumption. This paper explores material from a feminist psychodynamic therapy group for women with a variety of eating problems, focusing on how interweaving both discursive and unconscious approaches to understanding the gendered function of weight can facilitate change. Feminist psychodynamic therapists work with the concept that the body is an interface between conscious and unconscious mind within both an internal and a social world. This framework enables the client to understand the connections between socially constructed frameworks of femininity, emotions and bodily sensations, rather than to act on them through some form of bodily abuse. This approach is based on my adaptation of Susie Orbach's (1978) 'Fat is a Feminist Issue' therapeutic model for working with compulsive eaters. While arguing that a feminist psychoanalytic 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: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, Vol. 5(3), pp. 238 -245. The journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research is available online at informaworldTM at http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=issue\&issn=1473-3145\&volume=5\&issue=3
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 10:50
Identification Number: 10.1080/17441690500317937
URI: http://ubir.bolton.ac.uk/id/eprint/350

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