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Understanding Anorexia

Guide

Our ‘Understanding…’ series is a collection of psychoeducation guides for common mental health conditions. Friendly and explanatory, they are comprehensive sources of information for your clients. Concepts are explained in an easily digestible way, with plenty of case examples and accessible diagrams. Understanding Anorexia is designed to help clients with anorexia nervosa to understand more about their condition.

Understanding Anorexia Nervosa guide Understanding Anorexia Nervosa guide

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Guide

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Description

It is common to feel conscious of your eating, but extreme dieting and weight loss can lead to an eating disorder called anorexia (or anorexia nervosa), which impacts your physical and mental health. It is thought between 1 and 4 out of every 100 people will experience anorexia nervosa at some point during their lives. The good news is that there are effective psychological and medical treatments for anorexia nervosa, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

This guide will help you to understand:

  • What anorexia is.
  • Why anorexia might not get better by itself.
  • Treatments for anorexia.

Instructions

Our ‘Understanding…’ series is designed to support your clients:

  • Scaffold knowledge. The guides are perfect during early stages of therapy to help your clients understand how their symptoms fit together and make sense.
  • Reassure and encourage optimism. Many clients find it hugely reassuring to know there is a name for what they are experiencing, and that there are evidence-based psychological models and treatments specifically designed to help.
  • De-mystify the therapy process. To increase your client’s knowledge of the therapy process and the ingredients that it is likely to involve. If you can help your clients to understand why an intervention is important (think exposure!) it can help encourage them to engage.
  • Signposting. If you’re just seeing a client briefly for assessment, or you have a curious client who wants to know more, these resources can be a helpful part of guiding them to the right service.
  • Waiting time not wasted time. When you’ve assessed someone but their treatment can’t begin right away, psychoeducation can help them learn about how therapy can help while they’re waiting.

Each guide includes:

  • Case examples to help your clients relate to the condition, and to normalize their experiences.
  • Jargon-free descriptions of symptoms, and descriptions of how they might affect your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • A symptom questionnaire for screening assessment.
  • An accessible cognitive-behavioral account of what keeps the problem going, or what stops it from getting better.
  • A description of evidence-based treatments for that condition, including an overview of the ‘ingredients’ of a good cognitive behavioral approach.

References

  • Fairburn, C. G. (2008). Cognitive behavior therapy and eating disorders. Guilford Press.
  • Fairburn, C. G., Cooper, Z., & Shafran, R. (2003). Cognitive behaviour therapy for eating disorders: A “transdiagnostic” theory and treatment. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 41, 509-528.
  • Galsworthy-Francis, L., & Allan, S. (2014). Cognitive behavioural therapy for anorexia nervosa: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 34, 54-72.
  • Jacobi, C., Hayward, C., de Zwaan, M., Kraemer, H. C., & Agras, W. S. (2004). Coming to terms with risk factors for eating disorders: application of risk terminology and suggestions for a general taxonomy. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 19-65.
  • Keski-Rahkonen, A., & Mustelin, L. (2016). Epidemiology of eating disorders in Europe: prevalence, incidence, comorbidity, course, consequences, and risk factors. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 29, 340-345.
  • Keys, A., Brožek, J., Henschel, A., Mickelsen, O., & Taylor, H. L. (1950). The Biology of Human starvation. (Two Volumes). University of Minnesota Press.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE: 2017). Eating disorders: Recognitions and treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng69.
  • Schmidt, U., & Treasure, J. (2006). Anorexia nervosa: Valued and visible. A cognitive‐interpersonal maintenance model and its implications for research and practice. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45, 343-366.
  • Waller, G., Cordery, H., Corstorphine, E., Hinrichsen, H., Lawson, R., Mountford, V., & Russell, K. (2007). Cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders: A comprehensive treatment guide. Cambridge University Press.
  • Zipfel, S., Giel, K. E., Bulik, C. M., Hay, P., & Schmidt, U. (2015). Anorexia nervosa: aetiology, assessment, and treatment. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2, 1099-1111.