Using Experiential Group Therapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders


eating disorder, group therapy, family therapy


During the past 18 years as we have worked with women in a residential eating disorder treatment center, we have developed and used a wide vari- ety of experiential interventions and activities in group and family therapy, such as family sculpture, psychodrama, life experience reenactments, and structured role plays. These activities make the implicit more explicit so that each patient has opportunities to increase awareness of her power to choose to change. Patients become more honest as they make real connections to themselves and with the other women in the group. Another benefit of expe- riential group activities is that patients can experience and share emotions that have been previously repressed. They can have new, corrective emo- tional experiences. Experiential activities can also help women understand more about the nature of their eating disorder and the impact it is having on them. They can make connections and revisit relationships they have avoided. Experiential activities can help them recognize that they are worthy of love and can accept love that is offered to them. When handled appropri- ately, experiential activities can provide powerful healing opportunities for patients.

Original Publication Citation

Hardman, R. K., Berrett, M. E., Richards, P. S., & Black, S. (2015). Using Experiential Group Therapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 23:1, 89-97.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Eating Disorders




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor