Evidence based treatments for eating disorders

Family Based Treatment (FBT), also known as the Maudsley Approach, is the leading evidence based treatment for eating disorders in adolescents and children. FBT has also shown efficacy for bulimia nervosa. In FBT, the parents are considered to be the best resource for their child’s recovery. Parents play an active and positive role in order to help their child to:

  • Return to a healthy weight and growth pattern
  • Resume normal eating
  • Resume age appropriate independence with eating
  • Return to normal development

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Enhanced (CBT-E) is the leading evidence based treatment for all eating disorder diagnoses in adults, and it can be adapted for use with adolescents. It is designed to produce changes in thinking (cognitive change), and focuses on what is keeping the eating problem going. The therapy is tailored to your specific eating problem. You and the therapist will become experts in your eating problem and what is keeping it going, and will work as a team to help you overcome your eating problem. You will be given tasks to complete between therapy sessions to assist you in making changes. Depending on your needs, you and the therapist may work on:

  • Over-evaluation of shape and weight
  • Dietary rules and under eating
  • Being underweight
  • Mood-related changes in eating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism

Your family will be actively involved in helping you overcome your eating problem.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a time-limited, focused therapy developed for the treatment of depression that has been adapted for eating disorders and a range of age groups including adolescents and adults. It recognizes the importance of current interpersonal relationships in the recovery process. Interpersonal therapy is recommended in the NICE guidelines for the treatment of depression and eating disorders.

Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) has been described as “thinking about thinking” therapy. It was initially developed for patients with brain injuries. The therapy uses simple exercises to strengthen thinking skills. Research in patients with eating disorders has shown that these patients also have deficits in their thinking. In particular, patients with eating disorders tend to have inflexible thinking and difficulty seeing the “big picture.” CRT uses exercises and games to help patients improve their thinking and learn new strategies to solve problems.