Family Based Therapy (Maudsley Approach) for Adolescents with Eating Disorders

Family Based Treatment (FBT) is a short-term treatment that focuses on utilizing each family member to support the recovery of your child to overcome Anorexia Nervosa or Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders where there is significant food restricting or weight loss. Therapy consists of 10-20 sessions within an outpatient setting, hoping to alleviate the need for hospitalizations or residential treatment.  It is a cost-effective alternative to higher levels of care that is considered the most effective treatment for anorexia nervosa in children and teens.

Family Based Therapy for Adolescents with Eating Disorders

There are three phases to FBT

Phase 1

Focuses on nourishing and taking charge of refeeding your child to restore their weight and help them develop healthier behaviors. Until your child is at a healthy weight, they cannot ‘think clearly’ as their anorexia is driving their actions. Many parents are shocked to learn just how difficult it is for their child to eat, however if they could eat normally then they wouldn’t have an eating disorder! It is the vital role that the parents play in supporting the normalization of eating by planning, preparing, and plating each meal until phase two. This has been shown to decrease food related anxiety in the long run and increase normal cognitive and neurological functioning.  During this phase, we meet once per week for family therapy.

Phase 2

Focuses on reintroducing and returning independence in eating to the child or teen. This process is done slowly, to allow your child to demonstrate their competence in making healthy decisions related to the food, nutrition, and exercise their body needs. They continue to utilize other coping skills in stressful situations instead of resorting to restricting, purging, or over exercise. They get to spend more time with friends and engage in more typical social eating situations. During this phase we tend to meet every other week for family therapy.

Phase 3

Focuses on returning to typical adolescent development topics such as adjusting to a healthy weight, developing healthy boundaries and relationships with peers, and continuing to establish positive and supportive family interactions. During this phase we tend to meet once per month for family therapy.  Some clients also opt to include the adolescent in individual therapy to continue addressing any underlying body image, perfectionism, or social stressors.

In FBT each family member is encouraged to attend and participate.  Parents play the role in re-nourishing their child while siblings play the role of support and encouragement. The whole family comes together to support the recovery of their loved one. Every family member is important in that process. If you suspect your child or teen is suffering from Anorexia Nervosa or another eating disorder please call us today. Get an appointment scheduled with an eating disorder psychologist.

Check out the documentary below for more information on the effects of eating disorders. Lear what you can do to help your child!

Anorexia – Parents to Parents – What We Wish We Had Understood 

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Dr. Samantha Winton

Dr. Winton is the owner and clinical director at Integrated Care Clinic. She is a licensed psychologist that specializes in eating disorders, body dysmorphia, food anxiety, body image, intuitive eating, and perfectionism.

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