Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


This study was designed to examine the responses of elementary and secondary school counselors to students with symptoms of eating disorders. A survey was sent to 1000 school counselors in the upper Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) during the spring of 2000. The survey contained 1 of 4 vignettes which describe either a male or female student presenting with/without symptoms suggestive of disordered eating patterns. The gender of the student in the vignette was randomly assigned. School counselors were asked to report the classification they would designate, assessment procedures they would utilize, and interventions that they would implement with the student in the vignette. The survey also collected demographic information about the counselors, the schools at which they are employed, and the presence of an eating disorder prevention program. Two hundred sixty-three school counselors returned the survey resulting in a response rate of 26%. Results indicated that school counselors were likely to involve parents and psychologists in the treatment of the eating disordered individual. In addition, the likelihood of having eating disorders prevention program components in place varied by state. The manner in which school counselors respond to students with eating disorders is an important issue as they are likely to be the first mental health professional to come in contact with students with disordered eating patterns. School counselors can play an important role in the prevention, early identification, and treatment of students with disordered eating patterns. Implications of the results of this study are discussed with this in mind.

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