School counselors can play a critical role in assisting male students either at-risk or currently battling an eating disorder (Manley et al., 2000; Russell & Keel, 2002). The following is a list of guidelines that will benefit school counselors in their work with adolescent males:
1. School counselors need to know the risk factors specific to adolescent males. These can be remembered as the "six red flags" of
• Age 14 to 18 years
• Athletes in sports that focus on body image and weight classifications
• Homosexuality or confusion related to sexual identification
• Any occurrence of the previously enumerated mental disorders that appear co-morbid with eating disorders
• Recent turmoil in the home environment that could trigger the onset of an eating disorder such as death of a loved one, divorce, moving, and financial difficulties
• Presence of family members suffering from an eating disorder as well as a family environment that stresses physical appearance and body image
2. School counselors should be aware of resources available in the community. This represents identification of referral agencies and practitioners who have experience working with this population. The school counselor's role in initiating appropriate community referral would include providing the student and his family with general information on community psychotherapeutic resources as well as emphasizing the importance of a medical evaluation to assess the general physical health of the client. The research has shown that treatment for eating disorders can encompass months of individual and group therapeutic interventions; this underscores the need for the school counselor to be aware of available community resources (Manley et al., 2000; Phillips, Greydanus, Pratt, & Patel, 2003).
3. School counselors can educate parents, teachers, coaches, and community members on the following: awareness of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, prevalence rates in males, and each of the risk factors previously discussed. School counselors possess a critical knowledge base that can be incorporated into parent education programs and parent/teacher association presentations (Manley et al., 2000).
4. School counselors may monitor their students' progress in referred treatment as well as provide at-school support for those students in outpatient counseling. School counselors can also assist by offering group counseling opportunities for at-risk or diagnosed male students (Phillips et al., 2003).
The importance of understanding the etiology of eating disorders in males cannot be denied, especially when considering their deleterious effects on both mental and physical health (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Reijonen et al., 2003). The insidious nature of these illnesses--secrecy, shame, physical health problems, and heightened mortality rates--engenders a professional responsibility in school counselors (Fisher et al., 1995; Nelson & Hughes, 1999; Patel, Pratt et al., 2003). School counselors can provide important services to students, parents, teachers, coaches, and community members that include: identification, referral, psychoeducation, and at-school support services. Due to their direct contact with students in the peak modal age group, school counselors remain in the position to play an active role in the battle against eating disorders in the adolescent male population.
- Ray, Shannon; Eating disorders in adolescent males; Professional School Counseling; Oct 2004; Vol. 8; Issue 1.
Reflection Exercise #11
The preceding section contained information
about eating disorders in adolescent males. Write
three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section
in your practice.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Fitzpatrick, S., MacDonald, D. E., McFarlane, T., & Trottier, K. (2019). An experimental comparison of emotion regulation strategies for reducing acute distress in individuals with eating disorders. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 51(2), 90–99.
Lowe, M. R., Marmorstein, N., Iacono, W., Rosenbaum, D., Espel-Huynh, H., Muratore, A. F., Lantz, E. L., & Zhang, F. (2019). Body concerns and BMI as predictors of disordered eating and body mass in girls: An 18-year longitudinal investigation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128(1), 32–43.
Schaefer, L. M., Smith, K. E., Anderson, L. M., Cao, L., Crosby, R. D., Engel, S. G., Crow, S. J., Peterson, C. B., & Wonderlich, S. A. (2020). The role of affect in the maintenance of binge-eating disorder: Evidence from an ecological momentary assessment study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129(4), 387–396.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 25
What are the "six red flags" of eating disorders specific to adolescent males? Record the letter of the correct answer