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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.
Cognitive-behavioral 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 therapy.
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 primary doctor.
If you have a mental health condition along with an eating disorder, your doctor may suggest medicine. Treating a problem such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder may help you recover from an eating disorder.
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.
Current as of: January 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineW. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Current as of: January 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
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