Reversing the panopticon: On narrative therapy and its place in the treatment of eating disorders

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Megan Buys



With eating disorder treatment options gaining traction in Australia due to increased government funding for dietician and counselling sessions, psychotherapists and psychologists /are called to position themselves as an authoritative force within the therapeutic space. The current paper rejects this notion and uses personal and professional reflection on eating disorder treatment to suggest narrative therapy as a primary treatment option for eating disorders. Narrative therapy upholds collaboration between client and counsellor, rather than the clinician exalting an expert position. Its principles allow the client to centre themselves as the author of, and protagonist within, their life. Further, narrative therapy offers a dismantling of dominant discourse that may sustain limiting descriptions of the client and thereby discount the complexity and intersectionality of an individual’s life and identity. Through the narrative therapy tool of therapeutic letter writing, the author—a psychotherapist herself—tracks her experience of, and recovery from, anorexia and bulimia as a process of reversing the panopticon that is often sustained by the contemporary health care sphere.


Keywords: adolescence, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, Foucault, poststructuralism, narrative therapy


Address for Correspondence
Megan Buys