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Young people’s perceptions of fat counsellors: “How can THAT help me?"

Moller, Naomi and Tischner, Irmgard (2019). Young people’s perceptions of fat counsellors: “How can THAT help me?". Qualitative Research in Psychology, 16(1) pp. 34–53.

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Being fat is widely recognised as a stigmatised identity which disproportionately impacts women - personally and professionally. Women are numerically dominant as therapy practitioners, and we use this group to explore the ways a ‘fat counsellor’ is imagined in the context of counselling. A qualitative story completion task, about a woman starting therapy, was presented to 203 British young people aged 15-24. Participants were 75% female, 88% white, 93% heterosexual, and 98% able-bodied. The story stem did not specify the sex of the counsellor, who was identified as fat; the vast majority of stories assumed the counsellor was female. Overall, fatness was perceived as negatively impacting therapy, and the counsellor’s professional credibility, because fatness was equated with a lack of psychological health, which rendered fat counsellors professionally ‘unfit.’ This finding extends the literature on ‘weight bias’ in professional settings and has implications for counsellors of all body sizes.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1478-0895
Keywords: obesity; perceptions; qualitative; story completion; thematic analysis; weight bias
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology and Counselling > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology and Counselling
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Health and Wellbeing PRA (Priority Research Area)
Item ID: 56497
Depositing User: Naomi Moller
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2018 14:56
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2019 21:34
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