Being a mother with anorexia: A phenomenological study of seeking and receiving professional support for white heterosexual women in the UK

Fitzpatrick, Marie‐Claire; Clarke, Victoria; Ramsey‐Wade, Christine and Moller, Naomi (2023). Being a mother with anorexia: A phenomenological study of seeking and receiving professional support for white heterosexual women in the UK. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 23(4) pp. 1144–1154.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12687

Abstract

Mothers are currently under‐represented in the literature on anorexia, including research on treatment, with most research focussed on female adolescents. This raises questions about how adult women and particularly those who are mothers, experience eating disorder treatment. This study provides a phenomenological exploration of lived experiences of seeking and receiving professional help and interactions with health professionals for six white heterosexual mothers who experienced anorexia while raising their children. Four themes are reported that capture the women's diverse experiences of seeking and receiving support for anorexia: (1) conflict between mothering and seeking help; (2) experiences of feeling blamed, poorly treated or misunderstood by health professionals; (3) positive experiences of seeking and receiving support; and (4) the importance of ongoing support. The women's experiences suggest that healthcare professionals should adopt a more holistic approach that acknowledges the subjective reality of the client (including their mother status) when working with mothers experiencing anorexia.

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