The Dilemma of Obesity Stigma in Psychotherapy

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

Second Advisor

Lynett Henderson Metzger

Third Advisor

Kathleen Purcell


Behavior/CBT, Obesity Stigma, Psychotherapy, Case study


This paper explores the ways in which the growth of obesity in the United States is likely to impact psychotherapy, particularly in its implications for the management and awareness of obesity stigma in therapists' work with obese clients. Obesity poses a dilemma because no element of an individual's identity should be stigmatized in psychotherapy, and yet obesity impacts the individual's physical health and psychological well-being (Ogden & Clementi, 2010). As stigma specific to obesity is only beginning to be understood, the purpose of this paper is to examine obesity stigma through the lens of Erving Goffman's (1963) theories put forth in his book Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. A case example is offered as a means of understanding the therapeutic issue of weight loss and psychotherapy with an obese client, particularly from the standpoint of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


31 pages

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