Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders
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:
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.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy 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 is also done to help correct poor eating
habits and prevent relapse.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered effective for the
treatment of eating disorders.footnote 1 But because
eating disorder behaviors can endure for a long period of time, ongoing
psychological treatment is usually needed.
therapy may be more effective for treating
bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder rather than
anorexia nervosa.footnote 2
There are no known risks associated with cognitive-behavioral
For cognitive-behavioral therapy to be most effective, be sure to
work together with your counselor toward common goals. If you think you are not
working well with your counselor, discuss your concerns with him or her or your
If you have a mental health condition along with an eating
disorder, your doctor may suggest medicine. Treating a problem
obsessive-compulsive disorder may help you recover
from an eating disorder.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Hay PPJ, et al. (2009). Psychological treatments for bulimia nervosa and binging. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).
Anderson AE, Yager J (2009). Eating disorders. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 2128–2149. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerW. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
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