WellSpan Home

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

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.

How Well It Works

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

Risks

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

What To Think About

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.

References

Citations

  1. Hay PPJ, et al. (2009). Psychological treatments for bulimia nervosa and binging. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).
  2. 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.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry

Current as ofDecember 7, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×