Eating disorders are a common psychological problem in many modern people, especially women. Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder “characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight” (Anorexia nervosa, n.d). People affected by this disorder focus on weight control and fear of gaining weight. This effect is usually achieved by severe calorie restriction and excessive physical activity. AN includes both physical and emotional-behavioral symptoms and can lead to a number of complications.
The rationale for implementing behavioral treatment is the need to work with the patient’s emotional and behavioral characteristics. Among the key psychopathologies of AN are “shape and weight overvaluation and additional indicators of shape and weight concerns” (Forrest et al., 2018, p. 674). Thus, the causes of the development of the disorder are often cognitive biases or external factors that have an adverse effect on the patient’s psychological state.
The treatment should be utilized within the framework of both individual and group work to address psychopathologies that are the causes of AN. The process should include working with dietary rules, keeping records, working on behavioral attitudes, meal planning, developing the patient’s continuum thinking, as well as using behavioral experiments. Additionally, work is needed to transform the patient’s mindset and develop interpersonal skills. It is also important to introduce the practice of regular body checks and weighing, as well as exposure to the object of fear of patients, that is, food.
Treatment involves the therapist, the patient, family and friends, and other patients with eating disorders. In this case, it is extremely important to involve the patient’s family and loved ones in the therapy process so that they can create a comfortable and supportive environment. Group work is also necessary to develop the patient’s interpersonal skills and interact with the causes of psychopathologies. Thus, treatment involves collective participation, which will help patients minimize stress and increase the motivation to work on the disorder.
The focus at the level of behavioral therapy is to develop in the patient a responsible attitude towards observing their weight and understanding the physiological and psychological consequences of the disorder. Particular attention should be paid to distracting the patient from a strict diet and obsession with weight loss. At the cognitive level, it is necessary to form increased self-esteem in the patient, as well as to straighten out the factors that influence the preservation and progression of psychopathologies.
Additional resources available for treatment are the help of communities working with people with eating disorders. Within these groups, patients will be able to find the greatest amount of support to continue their treatment. The model can be used to determine eligibility for other programs that work with other types of eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and others. This is due to the similar psychopathology underlying these disorders.
The presented model is effective since it allows not only the development of healthy behavioral patterns in the patient but also transforming cognitive attitudes. Moreover, working with the patient’s family provides an opportunity to create a supportive environment that minimizes the risk of the disorder’s progression in the future. Group sessions also allow patients to socialize and stabilize the stress levels associated with interpersonal interactions. Timeframes of therapy depend on the patient’s condition and the dynamics of improvement in his condition, which can vary greatly within eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa. (n.d). Mayo Clinic.
Forrest, L. N., Jones, P. J., Ortiz, S. N., & Smith, A. R. (2018). Core psychopathology in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A network analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 51(7), 668-679.