Family-Based Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa in Adolescents

 

Mayo Clinic Clinical Psychologist Leslie Sim, Ph.D., L.P., discusses family-based therapy for anorexia nervosa. A serious illness, anorexia nervosa has a significant mortality rate, can become chronic, and can greatly diminish quality of life and overall health. Traditional psychotherapy, in which doctors work with an individual to help them make changes in their life, is not typically successful in adolescents with this condition. An evidence-based treatment for adolescents suffering from anorexia nervosa, family-based therapy mobilizes the family to help with re-feeding the adolescent. The treatment acknowledges that adolescents suffering from this illness are not capable of making good decisions about their eating and health. Outcomes of family-based therapy are quite promising, as research shows the majority of adolescents with a short history of this illness to have very positive outcomes and the risk of relapse to be quite low.