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A feminist analysis of developing an adventure therapy intervention for the treatment of eating disorders in women

Richards, K E (2008) A feminist analysis of developing an adventure therapy intervention for the treatment of eating disorders in women. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

The role of outdoor adventure programmes as a recognised approach for the effective treatment of psychological issues has, in recent years, reflected the growing interest in the development of adventure therapy. Although there has been an increased awareness of the possibilities of such a therapeutic approach there is limited practice, and thus very little instruction for how to implement such approaches, especially from a UK perspective. The aim of this study was to develop adventure therapy practice in the UK by specifically developing an intervention for women with eating disorders. Given that this specific approach for working with eating disorders didn't exist at the time of this study, this thesis is based on the principles of action research -a key aspect of the research process was the development of adventure therapy practice itself. Given the gender considerations of working in an outdoor adventure setting and the fact that eating disorders are largely a female phenomenon this study also took a feminist approach to ensure that disordered eating was in fact not reinforced by any adventure therapy approach developed. The thesis itself describes in detail the processes of developing the adventure therapy intervention and the associated experience of the six women who were recruited and took part in the intervention. The dilemmas and decisions made with regard to a number of issues in implementing an adventure therapy approach are examined, for example, facilitating therapeutic processes in an outdoor setting, identifying issues related to eating disorders that might arise in an outdoor adventure context, and examining feminist principles in action (e. g. reflexivity). As well as the six women's experiences of the different aspects of the adventure therapy intervention, the overall impact of the intervention for each woman is also examined. Data collected from a range of tools completed by the women, including personal information sheets, the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI), personal journals, individual interviews and a final focus group indicate changes in most, but not all of the women. The results suggests that for the women with less chronic eating disorder symptoms positive change across a range of clinical symptoms were evident, including reduced troubled eating behaviours, improved body image, and motivation for change, albeit to different degrees for each woman. And for the one woman with the most chronic symptoms, although the intervention was a positive experience there was no evidence to suggest the intervention had any sustained impact. Although, the results from this study are not representative of a large clinical population of women, there is an indication that the intervention did initiate therapeutic change for some of the women and thus suggests that adventure therapy has the potential to be an effective therapeutic treatment for eating disorders and is, therefore, worthy of further investigation. Inevitably, in continuing to develop work in this area many questions and issues are raised as result of the action research process and the thesis concludes with a consideration of some of the needs of developing future adventure therapy research and practice in the UK.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Divisions: Humanities and Social Science
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2017 10:40
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2017 10:40
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5920

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