Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Robert Basso

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. The current rate of anorexia nervosa is 1% in North America, representing approximately three million cases. Consequently, this illness has attracted a growing body of research and treatment. Current research in the field has focused primarily on the etiology of the illness. Furthermore, outcome studies are primarily quantitative in nature and have indicated that there is no treatment modality that consistently results in longitudinal recovery. What appears to be absent from the literature is the exploration of the recovery process from the perspective of those who have recovered. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of women’s recovery process from anorexia nervosa and to delineate a theoretical framework through which healing occurs. The informants of the present study participated in in-depth interviews, which were analyzed using the grounded theory methodology. Informants had opportunities to confirm and refine the theoretical construction. Healing from an eating disorder was described as an interwoven journey through seven conceptual phases: denial, window of hope, quiet time, opening awareness, finding self, taking responsibility and ongoing construction. A wellness model of living was also identified and described by informants that developed out of their healing journey. This theory can be utilized to inform future research on women’s recovery of anorexia nervosa, as well as guide treatment approaches for women suffering with anorexia nervosa.

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons