A Descriptive Study of Mental Health Professionals' Attitudes Toward Treatment of Eating Disorders

Date of Graduation

Summer 1996


Master of Science in Counseling


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Frances McNiece


Studies repeatedly show the irreversible damage eating disorders cause to the human body. Various treatment programs are being utilized to intervene and control this growing problem affecting many youths and adults today. Mental health professionals play an integral role in the treatment of this disorder as well as the development of more effective interventions. Qualitative reearch methods were used to demonstrate current knowledge and opinions of various professionals in the mental health field in order to discern their veiws of the complex interactions eating disorders has with other disorders as well as philosophies of treatment. Interestingly only 11% of those surveyed indicated they did not know someone with an eating disorders. With regard to professionals utilized for treatment of eating disorders the majority of respondents indicated they would use social workers (29%), counselors (24%), and marriage and family therapists (16%). It was discerned that the following factors are most strongly related to eating disorders; low self-esteem, obsessive-compulsive traits, and the need for control. Sixty-nine percent surveyed felt the trend in eating disorders had increased in the past five years. This information is essetial to clarify existing knowledge of therapy as well as to demonstrate areas which are lacking in educational development. Due to the ambiguity of this disorder many areas of treatment lack in consistency amongst mental health professionals.

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© Tracy A Kopetzki