Moving between positions: a qualitative study of mentoring relationships in chronic eating disorders

Roni Elran-Barak, Shiran Elmalah-Alon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Eating disorders (ED) are chronic and challenging-to-treat conditions, often persisting over extended periods. Some patients with EDs require prolonged intensive rehabilitation services, which may include weekly home visits by paraprofessional mentors serving as support persons, providing guidelines, emotional care, and assistance. This study aims to enhance our understanding of the nature of the relationship formed between mentors and patients with EDs. Design & Methods: Fifteen in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with patients and paraprofessional mentors. Interviews were analyzed using a descriptive phenomenological approach by two researchers to enhance reliability. Findings: Qualitative analysis highlighted that mentors play a crucial role in patients’ rehabilitation. Mentors adapt two positions (investigative and embracing) to address the encountered difficulties, including conflicts, tension, and confusion associated with (in)equality and reciprocity in the mentoring relationship. Practice Implications: Paraprofessional mentors can assist people with ED in their rehabilitation process. To support patients with EDs effectively, it is crucial to train and supervise the mentors in navigating between roles and dealing with boundaries, secrets, lies, and exposure to various aspects of the rehabilitation process. Additionally, we recommend further research using quantitative and empirical tools to complement the qualitative findings presented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • ED (Eating Disorders)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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