Graduate Psychology Students and Professor Publish and Present Research on Eating Disorder Treatment Challenges

The Pennsylvania Psychologist

A research team of four graduate Counseling Psychology students in the Holy Family University School of Arts & Sciences, along with Melinda Parisi Cummings, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychology, published an article in the February 2021 edition of The Pennsylvania Psychologist, the professional publication of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.

The monthly magazine is widely distributed to psychologists and psychology students throughout Pennsylvania.

The four students—Morgan Fisher, Amanda JervisTaylor Kliebhan, and Jasmin Rolling—collaborated with Dr. Cummings on the article, titled “Ethically Challenging Dilemmas: Eating Disorders and Treatment Options.” The article examines several of the ethically-challenging decisions faced by clinicians who treat those with eating disorders, including the dilemma of attempting to treat patients with treatment-resistant illness. The research group concluded that there is very limited literature on treatment rejection as they reviewed these challenges and how further research could help develop strategies to address the issue of patients with treatment-resistant illness.

“As a research team, we have been working hard to find guidance for clinicians on what to do in situations of treatment refusal when working with eating disorders,” said Jervis. “Through our work so far, we have learned to conceptualize treatment refusal as being multifaceted—being impacted by individual, clinician, practical and systemic factors.”

In addition, Jervis and Dr. Cummings will represent the research group (including new group member Gia Macaluso) to present their studies on March 18 at the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals annual symposium, which is being held virtually. The presentation, which is titled “Navigating Treatment Rejection when Working with Patients with Eating Disorders: Conversations with Clinicians,” includes data the group has gathered from interviews with clinicians who have experienced ethical challenges in treating patients with eating disorders.

“Our research has shown us that as a field, we need to begin to address the systemic factors impacting treatment, as well as develop guidance that is evidence-based, accepted by the field, and easily accessible to clinicians,” Jervis said about the group’s upcoming presentation. “It has been an honor to both write about and present on this topic with the hope of making a difference in the field of eating disorders.”

For more information (including admission requirements) on the Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology (Psy.D.) program or the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program at Holy Family University, please visit the graduate programs website or contact the Graduate and Professional Studies Office at 267-341-3327 or e-mail gradstudy@holyfamily.edu.

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