Dream Groups versus Interpersonal Groups: Comparison of Two Approaches to Eating Disorder Prevention among Sorority Women

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Spangler, Patricia Tschirhart
HIll, Clara E
Maladaptive eating attitudes and behaviors are prevalent among college women, and members of sororities may be at particular risk for developing eating disorders. Recently, group-format prevention programs targeting maladaptive cognitions and unhealthy eating habits among college women have yielded promising results but did not account for the effects of changes in alexithymia or interpersonal dynamics, factors that have been associated with eating disorder etiology. The current study targeted these and other eating disorder risk factors among sorority women, comparing process and outcome of group dream work versus group interpersonal psychotherapy versus control groups. Pre- to post-intervention changes in alexithymia, body dissatisfaction, fear of negative evaluation, and depression and were compared. In addition, development across time of affective referents and image intensity in written responses and group climate were examined. Growth curve analysis was used to compare changes in all variables over time. Results indicated that the written responses of dream group participants had more intense images in them that either the interpersonal groups or control condition. In addition, at post-test, the image intensity in interpersonal group members' written responses predicted the proportion of affect expressed in them, whereas this was not the case for dream group or control participants. For group climate, members of interpersonal groups perceived higher initial levels of conflict that decreased significantly over time.