Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Colin Hollidge, Ph.D., LICSW


Social Work


The purpose of this project was to determine: how clinicians assess whether or not their eating disorder patients have decreased executive functioning skills, if personality type effects executive functioning, and how clinicians treat executive functioning deficits. Using a qualitative design, six licensed clinicians, in the twin cities, with between 3.5 and 20 years of experience working with eating disorder participants, were interviewed to capture their thoughts on the research questions. The researcher then analyzed the data utilizing grounded theory coding techniques by transcribing each interview, annotating the texts and grouping codes that emerged more than three times into themes. A correlation analysis was also done to assess correlation between years of experience in working with eating disorders and percentage of clients participants believed suffered form executive functioning deficits. The findings indicate eating disorder clinicians have little consensus on the number of clients they see who suffer from executive functioning deficits. There is also no correlation between years of experience and percentage of individuals believed to suffer with executive functioning deficits (R2 =.0088), leading us to believe that years of experience does not give more or less awareness of clients who have deficits in their executive functioning. Eighty Three percent of participants reported they had no assessment measure for executive functioning deficits, and 100% reported relying on clinical observation to determine behaviors that let them know if an individual has executive functioning deficits. One hundred percent of participants reported that all eating disorder patients tend to be high achieving in at least one area of their lives. Finally 100% of participants indicated that the number one strategy used to help their clients regain executive functioning skills is through proper reestablishment of feeding. The findings of this study demonstrate the need for a field-friendly assessment development that can allow clinicians to measure and analyze executive functioning deficits, as well as the need for research that explores how clinicians can help foster the regaining of cognitive and executive functioning skills during the re-feeding process.

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Social Work Commons