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The Uninhabitable Body: The Intersection of Gender, Homosexuality and Disordered Eating

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About the Course:

Webinar from the 2009 International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Symposium.
Note: For this course there is a small additional fee to obtain the webinar. Please see the “Get Course Materials” link in the right sidebar for details

This workshop will explore the relationship between disordered eating, gender and homosexuality by examining the interplay of socially constructed gender roles, the development of a homosexual identity and the potential for disruption in an individual’s sense of embodiment. The inherent psychological challenges involved in developing a healthy sense of and relationship with one’s body will be examined with respect to the particular hungers and desires experienced by homosexuals. Attention will be given to the positive function of the therapeutic team and the most effective clinical techniques to be employed when working with this population.

Content Outline:
I. Experiential Activity A. Presentation of a list of verbal responses I have received from people when they learn that I am a lesbian. B. Participants will be asked to respond internally to the list and to observe their own reactions. C. Participants will spend time in silence while consider ing their ideas about LGBT people. Participants will be encouraged to avoid political correctness in order to understand their internalized homophobia and countertransferential material.
II. Introduction to and Discussion of Major Presentation Concepts and Presentation Goals A. The relationship between disordered eating, gender and homosexuality. B. Gender identity, socialization and the psychological impact on children whose internal experience runs contrary to family and cultural gender expectations. C. Traditional gender identities that abandon homosexuals resulting in internalized homophobia. D. The potential for disruption in an individual’s sense of embodiment and the manifestation of this disruption. E. The psychological challenges involved in developing a healthy relationship with one’s body secondary to the particular hungers and desires experienced by homosexuals.
III. The Interplay of the External World on Internal Experience A. The role of the family, culture, religious institutions and society. B. Supportive vs. antagonistic influences. C. Characteristics of the family that encourage resiliency against a hostile external environment vs. those that increase aggravate symptom formation. D. The emergence of an embodied sexuality as dependent upon the prior development of a cohesive sense of the “Self in Body.” E. D.W. Winnicott’s observations of infant/child development and the interaction with with caretakers and the external holding environment.
IV. The Symbolism of Symptoms in the LGBT Patient A. The work of Armando R. Favazza, M.D. and Sharon Klayman Farber, Ph.D., with respect to LGBT individuals with eating disorder and/or other symptoms of self-harm. B. The meaning of specific eating disorder and self-harming symptoms as an attempt at self-purification and cleansing. C. The use of symptomatic behavior as a form of wounded communication.
V. Treatment Techniques and Interventions A. Interventions aimed at increasing resiliency and self-acceptance in the face of societal oppression. B. Interventions that foster a mind-body link. C. How to assist clients with transforming their symptoms into feelings, thoughts and words. D. The value of: Talk Therapies (Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, CBT) and Experiential Therapies (EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Therapeutic and Recreational Activities, Equine Assisted Therapy.

This course is based on the recorded webinar, The Uninhabitable Body: The Intersection of Gender, Homosexuality and Disordered Eating created by Deborah Whalen, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Course Material Author

Deborah Whalen, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Deborah Whalen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently Sierra Tucson's Clinical Outreach Coordinator in the Mid-Atlantic Region. She has a master's degree in Social Work from Hunter College of The City University of New York. Her professional experience includes serving as a member of the clinical staff and as Clinical Outreach Coordinator at The Renfrew Center of New York. Deborah has presented to the clinical staff of major universities, hospitals, to private practice professionals and was a presenter at The Renfrew Center Conference in 2004. The presentation was entitled, "The Psychology of Difference." Deborah maintains a clinical practice specializing in eating disorders, trauma, LGBT issues and work with couples and families.

Deborah Whalen, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. authored the material only, and was not involved in creating this CE course. They are identified here for your own evaluation of the relevancy of the material this course is based on.

Course Creator

Max Schwanekamp

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially psychologists, therapists, and counselors who seek to update their research knowledge and competency in treating patients with eating disorders, increase and acquire new skills, learn new intervention strategies, and obtain continuing education credits. It is appropriate for professionals at all levels of knowledge.

Course Objectives:

After taking this course, you should be able to:

  1. After this presentation, participants will recognize the major social and psychological influences involved in the emergence of an eating disorder in an individual identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
  2. After this presentation, participants will have best practices and relevant clinical technique to employ when working with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered clients struggling with eating disorders.
  3. After this presentation, participants will recognize their own beliefs and attitudes – both positive and negative about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in order to learn more about their countertransference with the this population.

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Course Number 101687
2 CE credit hours
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  • Recorded Webinar
Exam Fee $11.94
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