As anorexia and other eating disorders have attracted increasing attention and concern among the public as well as researchers, efforts to understand how such problems develop and how they may be treated have gained significant momentum. One doctoral candidate at the University of Alberta is attempting to broaden the body of research on anorexia by recruiting people affected by the eating disorder for an investigation of the emotional components of living with anorexia. The researcher, whose goal of working with at least ninety participants has been described as notably ambitious, hopes to incorporate emotion-focused therapy into discussions with participants to examine whether they are themselves aware of their emotional experience, and to assess how such an experience may carry common traits across a wide variety of people.
Potentially leading to new types of treatment for clients suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders, the research is aimed at producing methodologies that can be combined with modern techniques, rather than replacing them, the researcher notes. In particular, the work will take an in-depth look at the emotions that can lead to relapses of starvation following the establishment of progress. Because people with anorexia are maladaptive, the researcher suggests, being able to cope with new and stressful situations may prove to great a challenge, leading to self-destructive behavior that can serve as a distraction.
Through exploring the emotional environment of those with anorexia, the research may add a great deal of knowledge to the study of the eating disorder, which is typically analyzed for other factors such as environmental circumstances or the ability of nutritional counseling to help ward off physical symptoms. Though the work has yet to be produced, and many willing participants still need to be found, the results are already being anticipated by some in the field.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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