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Eat Disord. 2013;21(4):295-309. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2013.797318.

Treatment providers with a personal history of eating pathology: a qualitative examination of common experiences.

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Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154 USA.


Using qualitative methodology, this study examined the experiences of treatment providers with a personal history of eating pathology. A total of 139 eating disorder treatment providers completed a questionnaire designed by the authors that (a) asked whether and how their personal history influences treatment of patients with eating disorders and (b) elicited feedback for other therapists. Results indicated that the large majority of participants (94%) believed that their eating disorder history positively influenced their treatment of patients (e.g., increased empathy, greater understanding of the disorder, more positive personal outlook). Conversely, only 8% identified ways in which it can negatively influence treatment (e.g., feeling personally triggered, over-identifying with patients). Feedback for other professionals included the importance of personally recovering before treating this population and monitoring one's experiences in session (e.g., notice countertransference). Continued discourse regarding the benefits and challenges of a personal history of eating pathology in treatment providers is warranted.

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