Not Quite this and not Quite that: Anorexia Nervosa, Counselling Psychology, and Hermeneutic Inquiry in a Tapestry of Ambiguity


  • Emily P Williams University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education
  • Shelly Russell-Mayhew University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education
  • Nancy J Moules University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing
  • Gina Dimitropoulos University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work



ambiguity, anorexia nervosa, hermeneutic inquiry, counselling psychology


As a group of researchers exploring how to best understand the complex topic of families discovering their loved one has anorexia nervosa (AN), we found that we had to weave ambiguity into our design. Embracing ambiguity allowed us to create a tapestry that acknowledges the ambiguity of AN, counselling psychology (and other helping professions), and hermeneutic inquiry. In fact, the “not quite this and not quite that” features of these three constructs emerged as the thread that holds the inquiry together. We review the topic of AN through a lens of ambiguity.  Further, we position both the field of counselling psychology and the research method of hermeneutic inquiry as compatible frameworks in the study of AN, in both practice and research. By acknowledging, and at times even embracing, ambiguity, we respect the complexity of the situation we are studying.  


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