The presenting psychopathology of college women seeking treatment for eating concerns at a college counseling center: A comparison with a relevant college clinical sample

William Geiger, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that a range of eating-related concerns pose a threat to the psychological well-being of significant numbers of college women. College service personnel must be prepared to understand, assess, and respond to the mental health needs of these women. This study examined the presenting psychopathology of college women seeking treatment for eating concerns at a college counseling center, comparing them with a relevant college clinical female sample whose presenting problem was not an eating concern. ^ Volunteers comprised two groups of female college students: those seeking treatment at a college counseling center for eating concerns (N = 27) and those seeking treatment at a college counseling center for non-eating-related concerns (N = 27). All subjects took the Eating Disorder Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Clinical Anxiety Scale, and the Symptom Check List-90-Revised. ^ The Eating Concerns subjects had significantly higher Drive for Thinness and Bulimia scores on the Eating Disorder Inventory than did the Non-Eating Concerns subjects. Both groups had high Body Dissatisfaction and Perfectionism scores on the Eating Disorder Inventory. Interceptive Awareness outcomes were mixed. Neither group was statistically more or less depressed, anxious, or globally distressed than the other. Sixty-seven percent of the Eating Concerns subjects and 52% of the Non-Eating Concerns subjects had clinically significant Global Severity Index scores on the Symptom Check List-90-Revised. For both groups, 37% of the subjects had clinically significant anxiety scores on the Clinical Anxiety Scale. Clinically significant depression, as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, was present for 26% of the Eating Concerns subjects and 33% of the Non-Eating Concerns subjects. In presenting symptomatology overall, the two groups were a lot alike. ^ The results underscore the need for comprehensive assessment of those seeking treatment for eating concerns, and awareness that women seeking treatment for other concerns may also have eating-related issues. “Partial syndromes,” representing a continuum of symptom severity, may be particularly relevant to the college counseling setting. Intervention strategies, including groups and workshops, can address specific themes, including body image/dissatisfaction, and perfectionism. Training of interns and staff development must take these issues into account. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Geiger, William, "The presenting psychopathology of college women seeking treatment for eating concerns at a college counseling center: A comparison with a relevant college clinical sample" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9953531.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9953531

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