Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Social sciences, Psychology, Body image, Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Eating disorders, Women


Josee Jarry




Body image disturbance is one of the necessary criteria for the diagnosis of both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and has been demonstrated to play a role in both the development and maintenance of eating pathology. Body image disturbance tends to persist after successful eating disorder treatment and is a strong predictor of relapse. A number of published studies have evaluated and demonstrated the effectiveness of stand-alone cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for the treatment of body image disturbance in college samples, in obese individuals, and in those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. In contrast, very few studies have investigated the effectiveness of treatment dedicated to body image disturbance in women suffering from an eating disorder. The purpose of the proposed study was to evaluate the effectiveness of group CBT for the treatment of body image disturbance in women previously diagnosed with, and treated for, an eating disorder. Women who had previously completed standard eating disorder treatment at a local outpatient treatment centre were recruited and quasi-randomly assigned to either a 10 week CBT group body image therapy or to a waitlist control (N = 22). All participants completed a comprehensive body image assessment and a variety of measures assessing general psychological functioning before and after treatment. Compared to waitlist controls, it was hypothesized that women who received body image therapy would demonstrate statistically and clinically significant improvements on all components of body image disturbance. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that women who participated in body image therapy would experience improvements in eating pathology and psychological functioning. In contrast to study predictions, statistical significance testing revealed no differences between women who took part in treatment compared to women who participated in the wait-list condition on measures of body image, eating pathology, and psychological functioning. However, clinical significance testing revealed that a higher percentage of women who participated in treatment were both reliably and clinically improved on various outcome measures, lending some support to the hypothesis that CBT for body image disturbance is an efficacious treatment for women with eating disorders. Qualitative information obtained from participants' answers to open ended questions regarding group satisfaction suggest that body image treatment for women with eating disorders may benefit from being delivered over a longer period of time than was offered here. Additional sessions may create better conditions for eating disorder patients to overcome fears associated with confronting body image cognitive and emotional content.