Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

James Simon


The purpose of this study was to explore the personal experience of people who have an eating disorder with a specific focus on what they attributed to their recovery. Eating disorders are a mental illness that affect one in 20 people. Thus, this prevalence coupled with a lack of significant research about eating disorders in the field of social work uncovered the need for this study.

Qualitative interviews were completed with five female students from a university in California. Each transcript was coded using conventional content analysis to uncover themes and subthemes, which included barriers to recovery, the need to uncover the root cause of the eating disorder, the value of support, and hope and resilience. The findings indicated that control is an important component in eating disorders and that change in weight should not be indicative of full recovery because recovery is an ongoing process. Furthermore, stigma and shame attached to eating disorders, a lack of knowledge by professionals, and access to care all served as detriments to seeking or receiving treatment.

The study provided valuable insight into the field of social work for those who service clients in the most prevalent age group for eating disorders, adolescents, and young adults, which includes child protective services. It is extremely important for social workers to know the risk factors and behaviors of an eating disorder and include them in their assessment because increasing knowledge and decreasing stigma will help strengthen social work practice by increasing awareness, a greater understanding, and access to treatment.

Included in

Social Work Commons