The Meaning of Pet Companionship in the Natural Healing of Diagnosed Eating Disorders, and Self-identified Disordered Eating Behaviours, Attitudes and Experiences

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Ranieri, Julia
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
A narrative inquiry methodology of study was employed to understand the meaning of the relationship between an individual and their personal pet companion, and the impact that that relationship has on healing a diagnosed eating disorder or undiagnosed self-identified disordered eating behaviours, attitudes, and experiences. Participant recruitment was completed with poster advertising and snowball sampling after which seven individuals self-selected to participate in the study. Seven themes emerged which illuminated the chronology of the individual’s journey through disordered eating behaviours and experiences with the support of their pet companion. The themes highlight the experience of isolation, connection, vulnerability, shame, mutual trust, love and respect for the interconnectedness of the individual and their pet. The findings of this study appear to indicate that the human-pet relationship is beneficial in aiding individuals to recover from their disordered eating experiences, and further allows for connection to permeate in other aspects of the individual’s life.
Eating disorders , Pets -- Therapeutic use