Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treats Eating Disorders With Less Risk of Relapse

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Eating disorders affect up to 30 million people in the U.S. in their lifetimes and claim more lives than any other mental disorder. There are many factors which contribute to the high death rate associated with eating disorders, including their severe health effects and low treatment rates.

However, many with eating disorders avoid treatment because they have been convinced eating disorder treatments don’t work.

Eating disorder treatment is a long and difficult journey, and many forms of eating disorder treatments are linked to high relapse rates. But, newer treatments are increasing the effectivity of eating disorder treatment and making the road to recovery smoother.

One particular treatment that has made great strides in eating disorder recovery is enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-E), a talking therapy which seeks to customize recovery plans to fit the person.

“It differs according to each person – so it fits their exact eating problem,” explains CBT-E creator, Professor Chris Fairburn.

“Therapists and the person with the problem work together to find out why it’s continuing and then design a treatment together to break out of it.”

While the details of the treatment vary from case to case, there is a basic structure it follows. First, patients undergo an assessment to determine exactly what is wrong, followed by an educational phase designed to help the person understand how and why they have developed an eating disorder.

From there, Prof. Fairburn says the program is all about working to break them out of the problem.

“What people think about their body and how they see it is often very problematic, especially those with anorexia or bulimia.

“CBT-E helps people realize the way they’re seeing their bodies is actually quite inaccurate – that what they’re doing to assess their shape makes it seem larger than it is.

“We help them to step back, see their body for what it is and help them make their body less important in their life – to give them some perspective,” he says.

The biggest strength of CBT-E is its low relapse rates. Under traditional treatments, most people with eating disorders face high relapse rates which can bring even more damage on top of the eating disorder.

“People can feel overwhelmed by a setback. We help them to understand why it’s happened and not to be upset. People are taught how to snuff out the problem quickly,” Fairburn says. “Gradually, those setbacks happen less and less. People learn how to be in control.”

As with every illness, the best treatment for an individual depends on their specific situation. While CBT-E may be effective for some, the best way to ensure you receive the proper treatment is to speak with a professional. If you think you or someone you know has an eating disorder, give us a call at (888) 298-4673 and we can find the right treatment plan for you.

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