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.
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: May 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineW. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Current as of:
May 28, 2019
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.