Research Paper: Eating Disorder Is Characterized

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[. . .] The client comes into the counseling system either by voluntarily enrolling themselves in counseling, through a friend or family referral or expert advice at a health facility. For typical patients, there may be a history of visiting other systems of care since it is likely that the patient will seek other forms of medical treatment before visiting a counselor.

Role of social worker

As a social worker, the role played will be in the long-term care segment of continuum of care since treatment of the eating disorder falls under rehabilitative care. This is because CBT aims at reforming the individual's cognitive and behavioral issues in order to achieve the goals of treatment.

The social worker is quite different from other practitioners since the social worker has a role to play in social education. In that the social worker has the role to educate the patient about the options available and other overlapping aspects that are relevant to the case at hand. The social worker needs to be more apt in giving holistic treatment such as family therapy, counseling, and community development, to the patient as compared to a doctor who only works on the physical aspect. The social worker thus has a greater leadership and advocacy role to play since in giving holistic treatment, they would be required to understand the patient from a wider perspective.

Factors influencing client use of mental care

Utilization of mental health services has been a problematic issue as a result of many individuals facing challenges in receiving mental care. One major factor is the social stigma that is attached to mental illness. The society believes that mental illness make a person 'crazy' or unfit as per society standards which should not be the case. Therefore this stigma prevents many people from seeking mental care. Another factor is the cultural believes that relate to the causes of mental illness. It is believed that mental illnesses are as a result of curses or other similar harms which causes people to feel shy to disclose their mental status.

In addition to these major factors, other factors contribute to people not procuring mental health services. One is the negative attitude that people have towards mental illnesses and providers of mental health services, others feel that mental health care is a waste of money since they feel that providers are unable to solve their problems, inaccessibility of metal health care services locally and lack of mental care services that are culturally compatible is also a huge issue. Other reasons include the use of alternative services which are informal and ineffective and the unfamiliarity of individuals to the existence of formal mental care services. These factors are part of the external factors that have been the focus of researchers in mental care including accessibility, affordability and availability of mental care services.

An individual's attitude towards seeking and using formal mental health care services is the single most important factor that affects their decision to seek professional mental health services. The link that exists between the attitude that an individual has and their subsequent behavior has been the subject of research and greatly affects their health-seeking behavior.

Building rapport and empathy

As a result of maladaptive behaviors that come with anorexia and bulimia, there may be challenges in creating rapport and empathy with patients. However, the importance of building rapport and empathy for patients cannot be overemphasized Krauth, Buser, & Vogel, 2002.

Without this, the treatment is bound to fail. To establish a rapport and empathy with the patient, the first and most important step will be to ensure the patient understands their need for mental care and the anticipated outcome of mental care. This involves explaining to the patient why they are where they are, what mental care will do for them and how they need to change. The second thing would be to form a therapeutic relationship with the patient that creates a supportive environment for the patient to disclose as much information as possible. Trust, reliability and compassion should be the foundation of this relationship.

The importance of the therapeutic relationship has been emphasized by several researchers who state that it has a potential to guard the patient against discrimination and helps them to change their attitude and behavior thus making treatment effective.

Cultural issues in eating disorders

Eating disorders, though evidence is limited, have been found by researchers to vary with their ethnicity. Amongst Caucasians, African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Asians, there are certain values and norms that lead to higher incidences of eating disorders Kime, 2008.

The primary reason for this is that women from these ethnicities develop eating disorders as a result of their rejection of their culture and adoption of more typical European or American cultures. At the same instance, there are values and norms that inhibit their ability to seek mental health care services which creates a vicious cycle for eating disorders.

In dealing with diverse groups of patients, it will be important to understand the influence that culture may have on the incidence of eating disorders resulting in anorexia and bulimia. It is important to understand that environmental cues for self-esteem may create negative attitudes leading to eating disorders. Thus though treating eating disorders in a diverse population will be a challenge, by understanding and incorporating these cultural influences as well as understanding the interdependence of cultural values, it will be much easier to disentangle these challenges.

Ethical issues in eating disorders

In treatment of patients with eating disorders, the five ethical principles should be followed. First is the principle of beneficence where the social worker should make sure that whatever they are doing benefits the client in their well-being. The second is the principle of non-maleficence by which the social worker should not harm the patient in any way. The third is the principle of autonomy whereby the patient's freedom of thought should be respected. Therefore changing the patient's attitude and behavior should be done while maintaining that the patient has freedom of choice. The main thing is that the social worker should help the patient think clearly and to weigh options and judge the consequences of their actions. The fourth principle is that of justice where the social worker should be fair to all patients while the last is the principle of faithfulness. This principle will help in creating the therapeutic relationship since it ensures the social worker makes honest promises that they can honor.

Maintain cultural competence is an important ethical consideration since the social worker needs to avoid any terminologies or references that may ruin the therapeutic relationship between the social worker and the patient. Another ethical consideration is that the patient's right to informed consent, right to information, right to confidentiality, right to a referral, right to have a competent therapist and right to avoid dual relationships should be upheld.

Evaluation strategies

Evaluation of effectiveness of the counseling can be monitored in several ways. One is through the use of client satisfaction or normal feedback forms. This is an effective way of collecting information from patients about the services received and how they can be improved. It would be important for the forms to be confidential in order to encourage honest feedback and uphold the patient's right to confidentiality. Reflective practice can also help in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of counseling. This can be done through external evaluation and feedback whereby the counselor can have other experts come and evaluate his work and give opinions about how it can be improved. In this method, patient confidentiality should also be upheld so any information regarding patients that is given should be confidential and cannot be traced to a particular patient.

Contracting issues with counseling

A counseling contract is necessary since it is a mutual agreement between the client and the social worker to begin the therapeutic relationship. The contract also helps to enhance the counseling process itself by promoting structure and delimiting boundaries and roles of each party. The contract binds the social worker and the patient to certain roles and creates a balance which is beneficial to the treatment process. The contract also contains important items such as cost of counseling, frequency and length of the sessions, availability of the counselor outside the listed sessions, the extent of confidentiality and venue where counseling will take place.

Social justice issues

As a social worker, it is important to ensure that social justice issues do not interfere with the therapeutic relationship between the social worker and the patient. This is done by ensuring that the social worker is non-partisan in potentially divisive social and political issues. The social worker should maintain a neutral and centrist position. This is encouraged because social injustices are directly associated with mental health groups so participating in social and political agendas could create division between the two parties thus breaking the therapeutic relationship.


Doll, H.A., Petersen, S.E., & Stewart-Brown, S.L.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Eating Disorder Is Characterized.  (2013, March 19).  Retrieved July 18, 2019, from

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"Eating Disorder Is Characterized."  19 March 2013.  Web.  18 July 2019. <>.

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"Eating Disorder Is Characterized."  March 19, 2013.  Accessed July 18, 2019.