Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be an effective treatment option for individuals with bulimia. This guided counseling method can help many individuals discover and treat the underlying causes of their eating disorder.
What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes thought as the cause of action. The patient is taught to recognize his own thoughts as the reason for the way he acts and feels, rather than viewing his behavior as influenced by external forces.
CBT is not a distinct therapeutic technique itself, but rather a general term for a number of therapies that pursue this method of thinking with distinct approaches. Examples of CBT include:
- Cognitive therapy
- Dialectic behavior therapy
- Rational behavior therapy
- Rational emotive behavior therapy
- Rational living therapy.
What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Do?
CBT works by making the individual a primary participant in his own recovery by creating a collaboration between the patient and therapist. Therapy is proactive, discovering what the client wants most from his life and working together to find healthy and safe ways of accomplishing these goals without letting interference cause defeat.
The patient’s willingness to participate and desire for recovery is essential in CBT.
Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
Studies by the American Psychological Association have revealed that CBT has consistently benefited patients with bulimia nervosa and related body image issues over the course of 20 controlled trials. Behavioral treatment has a profound effect on the psychopathology of patient. Overall, cycles of binging and purging are reduced, self-imposed dietary restrictions decreased and the intensity of body image concerns lessened or normalized.
CBT is often more effective for individuals than other psychological treatments such as supportive psychotherapy, supportive-expressive psychotherapy and stress management therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Antidepressants
CBT is often used in conjunction with antidepressants. Many studies have found that CBT is as or more effective at treating bulimia than antidepressants alone. A treatment method that combines antidepressants and CBT tends to be the most successful course for individuals with bulimia, outweighing the benefits of either component on its own.
While antidepressants can treat chemical imbalances that simple counseling won’t correct, CBT allows a patient to recognize the underlying causes of bulimia. Particularly for patients whose disorder developed from stress and a lack of control of their own lives, this responsibility in and of itself can greatly aid in recovery.