Marriage and Family Therapy Students’ Views on Including Weight Bias Training into Their Clinical Programs

Jaclyn D. Cravens, Keeley J. Pratt, Elizabeth Palmer, Rola Aamar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Discussions about diversity rarely focus on overweight, obesity, and bias about body size (i.e., weight bias). These discussions allow students to develop self-awareness about how their biases can affect their clinical work, as well as the challenges and subsequent bias clients may face in their everyday lives and from clinical providers. One consequence of the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States is the increase in the level of weight bias and discrimination towards individuals who are overweight, which has been documented among mental and healthcare professionals. Thus, it is imperative that training programs integrate weight bias as a part of diversity training. The authors will review weight bias in mental and healthcare professions, and describe several trainings focused on self-awareness about weight bias. The purpose of this study was to pilot and evaluate a training program for marriage and family therapy (MFT) students about developing self-awareness around weight bias and working with clients who are overweight. Following the program, focus groups were conducted to explore participants’ experiences, learning, and feedback on the content and delivery method. Focus Group methodology was used to guide the analysis process. Four themes emerged: training program feedback, challenges for the MFT field, self-of-therapist, and etiology of weight loss/gain. Implications for MFT training programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-222
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Diversity
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Training
  • Weight bias


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