Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Erin Kern Popejoy

Committee Member

Danette Horne

Second Committee Member

Brent Thomas Williams

Third Committee Member

Kristin K. Higgins


atypical anorexia, disordered eating, eating disorders, fatphobia, public health, weight inclusive treatment, weight stigma


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the phenomena of weight stigma as experienced by higher weight women in mental health treatment who also engage in restrictive eating behaviors. Women in larger bodies who are emotionally or behaviorally restrictive in their eating behaviors face a unique set of challenges and barriers. These include challenges due the disordered eating behaviors themselves, along with barriers related to weight stigma perpetuated by the mental health providers treating them (Harrop, 2019). Distinct hurdles to proper treatment including delay of diagnosis, longer duration of symptoms, and increased distress related to eating and body image over a lifetime plague this subset of women (Sawyer et al., 2016). In addition, these clients experience greater delays in care than clients who are considered “normal” weight or underweight (Drury et al., 2002). This gap in care is perpetuated by provider weight stigma, (Lebow et al., 2015), along with societal barriers to care related to weight stigma (Cachelin et al., 2001). The goal of this study is to illuminate these women’s experiences, with the hope that the findings may contribute to the education of current and future counselors.