Though there have been many positive trends in the worlds of therapy and mental health treatments over the past few years, not all areas have been improving. Amid a chaotic and stressful society with increasingly tight demands on youth, eating disorders have become a more prominent issue in the United States and around the world than many had imagined, touching the lives of children—especially adolescent girls—with alarming frequency. A great deal of treatments and programs have been developed in an effort to help curb the development and pervasiveness of anorexia, bulimia, and other issues, but one approach proposed by Houston psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini takes an angle that’s close to home.
Specifically, Rapini’s focus is on the relationship between girls and their fathers. While it’s well known that healthy relationships between children and their parents are essential for positive childhoods and the creation of many proactive behaviors, the specific interactions of fathers and daughters as they relate to issues of body image are less often discussed. Rapini notes that fathers can help their daughters achieve a more positive body image by participating in healthy family activities and being open about the paternal love a father feels for his child.
Though the intention is rarely present, Rapini contends, fathers sometimes contribute to their daughters’ difficulties with self-image and self-esteem by focusing on their appearance—or by ignoring it altogether. Advocating balance and the inclusion of behaviors that support healthy eating and exercise habits, all while maintaining a meaningful relationship, is key to the Houston specialist’s tactics for curbing eating disorders before they develop. Through the power of the family, eating disorders may find their match and give in to the positive trends enjoyed elsewhere in the realm of mental health.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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