Tuesday, 1st January 2019Seminar Thursday 17 January 2019:
Caring for women with eating disorders:
Could insights from feminist theology reform the practice of pastoral care?

This seminar took place on Thursday 17 January 2019, 4.30-5.45pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Dr Carolyn Blair, Research Fellow, School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:


This seminar aims to provide recommendations to assist with the improvement of church-based pastoral care of women experiencing Eating Disorders (EDs) using insights from feminist theology and other relevant sources. Unique perspectives have been derived from a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with women who have experienced EDs, carers of those who have experienced EDs and those claiming insight into such issues.

Considering that the most significant finding of this research project suggests that religious fundamentalist traits mirror the characteristics of women experiencing EDs, it has been crucial to critically analyse how these traits may deepen distress for the sufferer especially in pastoral encounters. Furthermore, it has therefore been essential to provide an alternative theological perspective which has the potential to help counteract these deleterious effects.

As feminist theologians challenge patriarchal perspectives pertaining to human flourishing and practical care, this seminar will demonstrate and prompt discussion on how feminist theological insights could positively reform pastoral care and frame the place of religion and spirituality in the recovery from EDs.


Carolyn Blair is a Research Fellow in Queen’s University Belfast in the School of Social Science, Education and Social Work specialising in the area of psychological trauma. Carolyn has received a PhD in Theology and Social Work, Master of Theology and Bachelor of Theology from Queen’s University Belfast. Carolyn’s research has mainly focused on the areas of EDs and self-esteem in females, reflecting upon how church-based pastoral care could be problematic but also has the potential to help in recovery.