Feeding and Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders are known to have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. That does not mean that recovery is not possible or that effective treatment does not exist. There are several treatment models that are considered evidence-based treatments for eating disorders.
Maudsley Family Based Therapy is considered the gold standard in treatment for adolescents diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and is gaining empirical support for adolescents diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. This treatment model is not traditional family therapy but rather a treatment model designed to use the strengths of the family system and the knowledge of an expertly trained therapist to walk together through the 3 phases of eating disorder treatment. This is considered the first line treatment for adolescents over individual therapy and dietician support and will give an adolescent the greatest chance at life as an adult without an eating disorder.
CBT-E is a manualized treatment model originally developed for adults with bulimia and binge eating disorder and has since been adapted to include modifications for the treatment of anorexia as well. This is the typical first line treatment for adults with eating disorders. This treatment model has the benefit of requiring that a client only see a therapist as opposed to multiple providers making it less intimidating and potentially more cost effective for those seeking treatment.
DBT informed therapy is gaining support as a “third wave” treatment, or part of a group of treatments that are continuing to evolve and adapt cognitive treatments looking for better treatment outcomes. DBT for eating disorders has not yet gained enough research support to be considered an evidence-based treatment however the studies that do exist are showing positive outcomes. DBT can be introduced, or used in conjunction with other treatment models, when traditional treatment has been shown to be ineffective or significant co-morbid illnesses are present that cannot be resolved prior to treatment of the eating disorder.