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Eating Disorder Professional Treatment - Individual Psychotherapy Continued

Bridget Engel, Psy.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA

Those who binge are taught to find reinforcement and comfort in activities other than eating. They will be asked to journal and track their emotions and behaviors. This will help them identify, and replace negative, destructive thinking that comes before binging episodes. They also develop skills to replace destructive behaviors with another activity that healthier. They must also be confronted about not recognizing the dangerousness of their destructive eating behaviors.

therapist and patient Studies find that CBT has a 60% or higher success rate for treating general or overall psychological conditions, including eating disorders. "Successful treatment" means only that patients are no longer jeopardizing their lives and can return to daily functioning. It does not mean that they are symptom free. There is no cure for or complete recovery from anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder. Because of this, you may have to work the rest of your life to prevent a relapse into a negative cycle of disordered eating behaviors. This may sound depressing, but with the help and support of friends, family and therapists (as needed), and by using you newly gained coping skills, you can expect to enjoy a happier and safer life.

Other forms of individual therapy, which are not as effective as CBT in research trials, may still be useful for some people with eating disorders. These include more relationship-oriented therapies, such as various forms of psychodynamic theory and humanistic theory.

The basis for treating an eating disorder from a psychodynamic perspective is that the symptoms of the disorder are expressions of a struggling inner self. This self uses these eating disordered behaviors as a way of communicating or showing the underlying issues. The issues are developmental ones and/or unresolved feelings and needs. If they are not addressed, they will continue to be expressed as dysfunctional behaviors. These issues cannot be confronted directly because the person will use defensive coping skills to keep using the behaviors that feel comfortable and safe. The goal is to help people understand the connections between their behavior and their relationships, and how these interact to create and maintain their eating disorder.