Psychotherapy for treating eating disorders is intensive and is usually conducted in the form of one-hour sessions once every or alternate week. Patients often feel ambivalent and lack confidence at the beginning of treatments. Thus, psychotherapists would adopt motivations interviewing techniques to enhance patients' motivations to change. And when the patients are fully prepared psychologically, psychotherapists would assist them to facilitate cognitive, behavioral, environmental and interpersonal changes.

  • Individual psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used to assist patients in understanding how their acts and emotions are affected by the fallacies in their ways of thinking, in particular those relating to food consumption, weight control, self image, interpersonal relationships and stresses in life. It aims at steadying their emotions and regulating disordered eating patterns through cognitive reconstruction. 

  • Family therapy: None of the studies suggests that one particular treatment approach is superior to the others in terms of treatment effectiveness. However, the family interventions treatment approach is quite effective in treating paediatrics and adolescents with anorexia nervosa [5]. There are many different kinds of family therapy such as structural family therapy, strategic family therapy, narrative family therapy and the Maudsley Method. Through discussions with the patients and their family, family therapists would study the problems of eating disorders from the aspects of the mode of communications and relationships between the patients and their family. It also stresses on the impact of eating disorders on the whole family, not just the individual patient. Family members are strongly encouraged to support the patients and participate in the treatment processes, instead of putting blaming all the problems on the individual patient. The common themes of family therapies are improving patterns of communication, expressing emotions, effective problem solving methods and conflict resolutions.

  • Group treatment: Six to eight patients form a group which is led by different professionals. There is a pre-group and post-group assessment for examining the effectiveness of the group. Since patients share similar symptoms and experiences, they would find it easy to echo with each other's feelings and thus the process of treatment is no longer a lonely one. In such situations where patients have mutual supports and references from one another, they would be much more motivated to change for treatment purposes and thus resulting in obvious improvements.


[5] Lock, J., & le Grange, D. (2005). Family-based treatment of eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 37, S64-67.