Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Alexandra Kirsch

Training Track: Clinical
Advisor: Colleen Conley, Ph.D.
Office: Coffey
Webpage: Research Gate


My research interests include how different aspects of context can affect an individual’s growth, development, and adjustment. These contexts have included cultural aspects (e.g., gender and sexual orientation), psychological factors (e.g., coping and hardiness), and developmental changes (e.g., the transition to college) that can be related to the presentation of psychopathology.

Masters Thesis Title

Examining The Moderating Role of Specific Coping Strategies on the Relationship Between Body Image and Eating Disorders in College-Age Women

Masters Thesis Abstract

A sample of college age women assessed at three time points (Time 1: Baseline, assessed before college, Time 2: End of first semester, Time 3: End of first year of college) completed measures of disordered eating, coping, and body image. Results indicated that neither adaptive (problem-focused coping or social support seeking) nor maladaptive coping styles (active emotional coping or avoidant coping) as measured at Time 1 or Time 2 moderated the significant predictive relationship between body dissatisfaction at Time 1 and disordered eating attitudes at Time 3, when adjusting for disordered eating attitudes and BMI at Time 1. However, significant main effects of certain coping strategies indicate that while coping does not moderate the relationship between body image and disordered eating, coping may still be an important area for intervention. Future research needs to continue to examine the complex relationship between coping, body image, and disordered eating.

Masters Thesis Committee

Colleen Conley and Grayson Holmbeck

Dissertation Title

Disordered Eating Treatment Programs for Adolescents and Emerging Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment Effectiveness and Moderators of Treatment Success

Dissertation Abstract

This meta-analysis systematically reviewed interventions for disordered eating in the adolescent and young adult population. A systematic search identified 30 interventions that could be compared to controls and 88 specific interventions that could be compared to other specific interventions. An in-depth analysis of the current state of the literature is provided. Results indicated that eating disorder interventions were effective overall when compared to control for both eating disorder and non-eating disorder outcomes, with differential effects across diagnoses, outcome categories, and outcome source, as well as some maintenance of effects at follow-up. Additionally, multiple moderators of treatment effectiveness for eating disorder outcomes emerged including: duration of diagnosis, whether females were targeted, qualifications of administrator, type of control group, rationale for study size, modality, inclusion of psychoeducation, a social interaction component, and use of homework. Preliminary comparisons between specific types of treatment indicated are discussed with caution. Clinical implications and recommendations for future research on eating disorder intervention for adolescents and young adults are highlighted. 

Dissertation Committee

Colleen Conley, Catherine Santiago, Denise Davidson, and Joseph Durlak