Experience in Application of Rational-Emotive Therapy in Psychological Assistance to Women with Eating Disorders

Author Name(s): Elena Yu. Shpakovskaya, Natal'ya G. Bazhenova, Oksana V. Tokar, Oksana P. Chernykh
Author Email: info@ores.su


This paper deals with the experience of using rationalemotive therapy in psychological assistance to women with eating disorders. Psychodiagnostic, experimental and statistical methods of research are used. The results of the author’s psychological assistance program “In harmony with oneself” are presented with the use of the rational-emotive therapy methodology. The purpose of the program: therapy of eating disorders and normalization of the body mass index of women. Targets of psychotherapeutic influence are indicated: goals and irrational attitudes, psychoemotional tension, bodily image of “ego”, rigidity of psychological defenses. The results of approbation of the program are ascertained: normalization of the body mass index and types of eating behavior, preservation of positive dynamics within six months after the end of therapy. The ways of further improvement of the program are planned taking into account the experience gained in applying rational-emotive therapy.


Introduction to the problem Modern trends in food behavior of the population are characterized, on the one hand, by the desire for an ideal shape, the image of which is largely determined by the media, and on the other hand, by an unbalanced diet. As a result, we are confronted with an extreme eating disorders leading to a change in body weight towards obesity or painful leanness. Disturbance of eating behavior involves changing eating habits, constant weight control and fears about its increase, denial of the existence of a weight problem, worsening of somatic health and psychosocial functioning (Skugarevskii O.A., 2007, p.76-85; Tumbasova E.R., 2017, p.130-133). Relevance of the problem The importance of the research is dictated by practical tasks related to the organization of the process of psychological support to persons with disturbed eating behavior and a deviating body mass index (hereinafter BMI); advancing of the level of professional and psychological training of specialists in the educational and social spheres, as well as in the sphere of health; the development of educational programs for the prevention of eating disorders in different sex and age groups of the population (Bazhenova N.G., 2015., p.25-29., Tokar O.V., Shpakovskaia E.Iu., 2016, p.524).


In general, the developed program has shown its effectiveness. Its completion has led to normalization of BMI in women with eating disorders and abnormal body weight. The overwhelming majority of participants in the program to some extent got rid of extreme forms of pathological eating behavior and approached an adequate option; they began to more constructively perceive and accept their body, reduced the intensity of the painful desire for excessive leanness, learned to control bouts of gluttony, cope with emotional shocks in more productive ways; worked on the interpersonal relations and attitudes to themselves, and their own effectiveness in society; formed the ability to analyze bodily sensations, recognize and differentiate the true and false motivations for eating. The participants of the project have learned to recognize and analyze their psychological defenses and to move to conscious management of their behavior. The position of being obliged has changed to a more rational way, frustration tolerance increased, the participants became less receptive to the opinions of others about themselves and their appearance. Despite the general positive dynamics, we see that with respect to some women and girls, the stability of the irrational attitude of catastrophizing and psychological defense of regression is observed. Both parameters belong to the sphere of the unconscious and require in-depth specialized psychological help. For some women, the emotional nutritional response to stress and failure remains relevant. The use of additional techniques and the possibilities of RET in relation to catastrophizing will make it possible to more effectively influence the emotiogenic EB. The participants with restrictive EB require additional work on their self-assessment, acceptance, the balance of the “real ego” and “ideal ego”, and the formation of stereotypes of healthy eating behavior.

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