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DkIT Students Embrace Body Acceptance

05 April 2023

DkIT have announced the beginnings of a new initiative for the Institute as they have started a Body Acceptance programme with students. Facilitated by students for students, this initiative is supported by the student counselling service's National Association 'Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland' (PCHEI). This programme was rolled out by training students to become leaders and training them in the skills necessary to deliver the programme to fellow students.

Dr Francis McGivern from the Institute’s counselling service had high praise for all the group leaders' enthusiasm and motivation and praised them for giving up their time for this important training. He also commended the programme’s participants' courage to take that first important step to challenge the accepted narrative on how we speak about our bodies.

Dr McGivern said,

“I’m delighted to congratulate and give recognition to Emma Hutchinson, Julie Culikova, Jacqueline O'Connor, and Ryan Hayes for leading and becoming the first ever Body Acceptance classes facilitators in DkIT”.

The Body Project Collaborative was formed in 2012 by Drs. Eric Stice and Carolyn Becker to create new training opportunities for people interested in facilitating the Body Project. Dr. Stice created the Body Project and Dr. Becker pioneered both the strategy of training collegiate peer-leaders to facilitate Body Project groups in university settings and the Train-the-Trainer Approached used by many Body Project community partners. Collectively, they have over 30+ years of experience in testing and running the Body Project in a multitude of settings and with a variety of group facilitators. To date, the Body Project has been used by numerous schools and over 140 college campuses; collectively it has been delivered to over 3.5 million girls and young women in 25 countries. Research supports the use of the Body Project not only with those who have elevated body dissatisfaction, but also in more diverse groups of adolescent girls and young women that include those with lower levels of body dissatisfaction. The Body Project Collaborative is both proud and grateful to partner with a diverse array of organizations including the Dove Self Esteem Project and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the Eating Recovery Foundation, the National Eating Disorders Association, and many other educational and community organizations.

The programme which was delivered in DkIT consisted of verbal, written, and behavioral exercises in which participants voluntarily critique the thin beauty ideal promoted for females during four weekly sessions.  These activities have been shown to result in decreased subscription to the “appearance ideal” and consequent reductions in body dissatisfaction, negative mood, dieting, and eating disorder symptoms, as well as decreased risk for future eating disorders and improved psychosocial functioning.  Dr Eric Stice, Co-Director, Body Project Collaborative, Oregon, USA came over to train the DkIT student facilitators.

One of DkIT’s volunteer student facilitators said,

"it felt so great helping people and hearing their stories" She was thankful for the opportunity "because it's been a great experience so far".

Some of the feedback from recent participants of Body Acceptance classes run by the DkIT peer leaders this semester included,

"Facilitators were excellent, relatable, and made me feel comfortable...really welcoming and easy to talk to”.

"Talking about...body acceptance...was very liberating."

"I would definitely recommend [the class] to friends I think would be interested or would benefit from it".

"Thank you for the course”.

DkIT are delighted to report that due to the success of this initial roll out of the programme the Body Acceptance Classes will be back next year and hopefully will become a mainstay in the Institute’s students supports.

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