Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McAllister, Carolyn


The study addressed the competency and level of comfort mental health practitioners have when treating clients with disordered eating as a coping mechanism resulting from sexual trauma. Acquiring knowledge on disordered eating as a coping mechanism to deal with the psychological stress of sexual trauma is important to the social work field because addresses underlying issues of disordered eating and introduces individuals to new coping mechanisms. This study will also be useful to clinicians in helping them evaluate current interventions to ensure that clients are receiving the best treatment possible.

For this qualitative research study, the research method that was used were interviews. The data received from the audio recordings was transcribed and studied using thematic analysis by identifying common themes. The themes created were: competency, comfort, and treatment. Based on the data it was quite evident there was a wide range of preparation held by these practitioners, with some having extensive, specific knowledge, and others having little to no specialized training. Regarding the participants’ comfort level; 5 participants expressed that they are equally comfortable with treating both populations; and 2 participants mentioned that they are more comfortable with treating eating disorder clients with sexual trauma.

The interviews illustrated there is not one specific theory used to treat individuals with an eating disorder who also have a history of sexual trauma, however, trauma focused treatment is the most common modality implemented by clinicians. The findings from the study demonstrate there is still more to be researched when treating individuals who suffer from an eating disorder and who also have a history of sexual trauma.