The experience of relationships, puberty and adolescence for eating disorder clients

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Cox, Kieran
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this research was to investigate the experience of relationships, puberty and adolescence for clients suffering with an eating disorder. Four semi-structured interviews were carried out with psychotherapists who have each worked for over 10 years with this cohort of client. Over 150 codes were extracted from the interview data using Thematic Analysis methodology from which the 4 main themes of relating, identity, conflict and complexity were identified. Clients suffering with an eating disorder who present for therapy, as with the general population, have had multiple influences and experiences throughout their early years, adolescence, into adulthood and beyond. Unlike the general population however, some influences and experiences appear to have been problematic for this cohort. This research suggests that the problematic influences and experiences fall under the themes of relating, identity and conflict, and together they combine to form a complex set of life experiences, resulting in a need for 'control' and 'understanding' which an eating disorder appears to fulfil.