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Eat Disord. 2012;20(1):14-30. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2012.635560.

A retrospective look at the internal help-seeking process in young women with eating disorders.

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  • 1University Counseling Service, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


This qualitative study retrospectively explored the help-seeking process in women with eating disorders. Interviews were conducted with 14 college-age women suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or eating disorder NOS. Grounded theory was utilized to develop a preliminary model of the help-seeking process. Participants described a gradual shift from denial to increased awareness of self and the impact of the illness. This core process was transient in nature and influenced by interpersonal feedback, critical incidents, the women's general attitude toward help- seeking, and prior treatment experiences. Implications for clinicians include an increased focus on the transient awareness of self and the illness.

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