Chrysalis Camp: Uniting and empowering girls. An eating disorder primary prevention program

Maria J. Guglielmino (2003)

This dissertation offers a proposal for an intensive experiential program designed to prevent eating disorders in pre-adolescent girls. The program focuses on addressing the sociocultural factors that increase the risk for the development of eating disorders. The incidence of eating disorders has increased significantly since the early 1960s. Eating disorders, often physically and psychologically incapacitating, affect approximately 5-10 million post-pubertal girls and young women. Moreover, these disorders have the highest mortality rates of any type of psychiatric ailment. Body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and dieting, which have been implicated as predictors of eating disorders, are rampant among women. This epidemic of body discontent, however, has spread to our youth, with significant numbers of adolescent girls experiencing body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness as well as engaging in dieting and eating disorders behaviors. Dieting and eating disorder attitudes and behaviors significantly increase girls' risk for the development of eating disorders. Experts in the eating disorder field have emphasized the need for increased efforts at developing prevention curricula. This dissertation addresses the rationale for strategies to prevent eating disorders and provides an extensive literature review discussing their multifactorial origin and the existing eating disorder prevention research. In addition, this dissertation describes the design for a community-based primary prevention program for eating disorders targeting girls aged 10-13. The program, Chrysalis Camp, is designed as a five-day intensive workshop that will be marketed as a camp whose purpose is to foster healthy self-esteem, positive body image, and emotional well-being, factors that may ultimately prevent disordered eating. The Chrysalis Camp curriculum will provide education and resources via twenty-five core lessons in three major domains: self-esteem, body enhancement, and stress management. In addition, the program includes a three-part parental component that may reduce family risk factors for the development of eating disorders. This dissertation also presents considerations regarding design of materials, recruitment of staff, and marketing of the program. A protocol for selection of participants and a program evaluation are described. Finally, the discussion and conclusion address questions and concerns that have been considered regarding the proposed program design.