The use of group therapy to help women with eating disorders differentiate and articulate affect
- Cite this article as:
- Barth, F.D. Group (1994) 18: 67. doi:10.1007/BF01457418
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In this discussion of eating disorders, symptoms are viewed as responses to unprocessed and unprocessable affect—what Stolorow and Atwood, Krystal, and Sifneos have called “alexithymia.” The article explores ways in which a group experience can help to provide an arena for the articulation and exploration of this affect. The group can provide its members with the responsive milieu necessary for the development of an internal structure that eliminates the need for the eating behavior. The metaphor of a child learning to swim is used to suggest that the group process can be seen as a kind of group “swimming lesson.” Group members work together with the therapist to develop the necessary skills and muscles to negotiate the waves of their own feelings, making the eating behavior unnecessary.