Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Sarah Ferguson

Abstract

Eating Disorders are a growing mental health concern with serious consequences for those who struggle. The individual and complex nature of eating disorders presents a need for new, innovative treatment modalities. One such treatment that is gaining interest in the eating disorder field is the holistic modality of yoga. The benefits of yoga on mental health have been addressed in previous research. While previous research focuses on quantitative studies and outcomes of clients, this paper administers a qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews done with licensed therapists and yoga instructors who practice yoga with the eating disorder population. The study focuses on why yoga is being used with the eating disorder population and how practitioners are implementing yoga interventions effectively. The themes that emerged from the data were: 1) a mindful experience of the body; 2) the power of yoga philosophy; 3) partnered with therapy; 4) a careful and thoughtful use of yoga; 5) a personal yoga practice; 6) safety comes first; 7) benefits for clients who are willing. The theme safety comes first included three subthemes: yoga preparation, assessing for trauma, and modifications. Implications for the use of yoga in clinical social work and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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