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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding weight restoration in adolescent anorexia as a parent project Socholotiuk, Krista Deanne


Parent-led weight restoration is a key intervention of family-based treatment, an empirically-supported approach for the treatment of adolescent anorexia. Little is known about the processes by which parents implement weight restoration, and current understandings of this intervention are primarily informed by professional perspectives. The aim of this study was to increase knowledge and understanding of parent-led weight restoration by examining parents’ actions while engaged in efforts to help their adolescent recover weight. The guiding research question was, “How do parents participate in the weight restoration of their adolescent as he or she recovers from anorexia?” This multicase study (Stake, 2006) used the action project method (Young, Valach, & Domene, 2005) and conceptual framework of contextual action theory (Valach, Young & Lynam, 2002) to examine five cases of parents engaged in actions intended to help their adolescent recover weight and to alter eating disorder behaviours. Data were collected using multi-part interviews, and analyzed according to the action project method and the multicase approach. Qualitative analysis revealed parents’ treatment-related goals of adolescent weight recovery were situated in a larger system of projects and careers in the parents’ personal and family lives. Conceptualizing the parents’ actions within this system revealed personally and socially meaningful weight restoration projects, and the relational and social meaning of these projects was found to motivate and steer parents’ day-to-day weight restoration actions. Some common joint projects emerged across the cases, such as seeking support and partnership and managing burden and distress associated with tension between weight restoration and other personal and parenting projects, especially adolescent development and parent identity processes. Implications for counselling practice with parents implementing weight restoration treatments are drawn.

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