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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders

Treatment Overview

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an active type of counseling. Sessions usually are held once a week for as long as you need to master new skills. Individual sessions last 1 hour, and group sessions may be longer.

During cognitive-behavioral therapy for eating disorders, you learn:

  • About your illness, its symptoms, and how to predict when symptoms will most likely recur.
  • To keep a diary of eating episodes, binge eating, purging, and the events that may have triggered these episodes.
  • To eat more regularly, with meals or snacks spaced no more than 3 or 4 hours apart.
  • How to change the way you think about your symptoms. This reduces the power the symptoms have over you.
  • How to change self-defeating thought patterns into patterns that are more helpful. This improves mood and your sense of mastery over your life. This helps you avoid future episodes.
  • Ways to handle daily problems differently.

What To Expect

You can use your cognitive-behavioral skills throughout your life. You may find that additional "tune-up" sessions help you stay on track with your new skills.

Why It Is Done

CBT is used to treat the mental and emotional elements of an eating disorder. This type of therapy is done to change how you think and feel about food, eating, and body image. It's also done to support healthy eating habits and prevent relapse.

How Well It Works

CBT can be helpful for eating disorders because it can help you change the way you think about your body and about food. It can also help you learn healthier behavior related to food and eating.

Risks

There are no known risks associated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Credits

Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
W. Stewart Agras MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry

 

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