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Title: "We need to remind them they are people too" : the experience of group therapy for Anorexia Nervosa : a qualitative study from psychologists' perspectives
Author: Phillips, Rachael
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 8980
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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In seeking to gain a greater understanding around group therapy for Anorexia Nervosa (anorexia), this study explored what psychologists perceive to be useful and not so useful about working in this complex setting. Qualitative research studies, with a focus on process, are limited in this field. Existing literature predominates its exploration of clients’ experiences, and neglects to consider the perspective of the therapist. This research study aimed to address this gap in the literature. Interviews with eight participants were conducted and transcribed verbatim. They were then subject to analysis, using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approaches. Researcher reflexivity was carried out throughout the various phases of the research, and are highlighted in the text. Three superordinate themes were created from the findings produced in the analysis. These were titled; Connecting with others, Them against us, and Addressing the elephant in the room. These themes aimed to encapsulate findings of participants’ perceptions of what is useful and not so useful about running therapeutic groups for those experiencing anorexia. Likewise, the themes shared participants’ observations of how psychologists’ experience facilitating group therapy for those suffering from anorexia. The participants offered recommendations as to how to manage the perceived challenges in the group setting. From the perspective of the participants’, the group was seen as a unique and powerful tool in encouraging a plethora of positive therapeutic factors, and had many positive implications for clients meeting others who shared similar difficulties. The participants considered the group process to be capable of alleviating individuals’ social isolation, commonly attributed to those suffering from anorexia, and aid in establishing a support network and building interpersonal relationships. Limitations of group therapy in this context were highlighted, and the role of the group in the development of ambivalence and the exacerbation of symptoms, was discussed. The findings and their relationship to Labelling Theory were explored, alongside their implications for future clinical practice. Such implications included a focus on the use of stigmatising language, the overall structure of the group, specific interventions, and the use of the relational approach to therapeutic work. The relevance of the findings to Counselling Psychology practice were highlighted, and evaluation of the strengths and limitations of the study were addressed, alongside recommendations for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral