Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Date of Graduation

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Kenneth Critchfield

Gregg Henriques

Robert Harminson


Collegiate female athletes face the challenges of conflicting feminine body ideals in society and in their sport all while striving for athletic success. Coaches are believed to play a significant role in an athlete’s development, and thus have potential to (knowing or unknowingly) reinforce, or even introduce, eating pathology as a means to achieve athletic performance and/or a body ideal. Previous research has found a link between insecure attachment and subsequent eating pathology in athletes and non-athletes alike. The coach can be viewed as an important attachment figure in an athlete’s life and development and thus serve a mediating role for how earlier attachment patterns do, or do not, transfer to an athletes identity, well-being, and functioning. The aim of the present study is to explore (1) the interpersonal dynamics that occur between a collegiate athlete and a coach, (2) the context of this attachment relationship as related to other attachment relationships, and (3) the interaction of these attachment relationships on disordered eating behaviors and negative body image beliefs. Providing a clearer picture of the interactions and relational patterns that can occur between a coach and an athlete will be useful in developing methods and interventions to help increase awareness of the coach’s impact on body image and eating, and to create tailored interventions for both coaches and athletes to access more adaptive attachment representations, coping styles, and ways of being.



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