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Anorexia - Family Therapy Twice as Effective as Individual Therapy


Researchers and doctors believe that family-based therapy, in which the parents of the child or teen with anorexia nervosa are asked to interrupt their children's eating behaviors. Family therapy is twice as effective as individual therapy at helping both the anorexic and the parents understand, cope with and find a way to end the anorexia. This new research is from the Stanford University School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the University of Chicago. The study is the first comparison of these two common treatments for children and teens suffering from anorexia.

Clinical Study

“Lock's team at Stanford collaborated with researchers at the University of Chicago to test family-based therapy against individual psychotherapy therapy in 121 male and female anorexia patients aged 12 to 18.” In the family-based therapy, the therapist helps the patient's parents to understand what their child is going through. This method is to help make sure that their child/teen eats enough nutritional food and does not over exercise. The parents are basically instructed on methods to encourage their child/teen to eat and keep an eye on their activities to ensure excessive exercise is not a part of their daily routine.

The Clinical Study Results

“At the end of the study, 49.3 percent of family-based therapy patients were in full remission, whereas 23.2 percent of individual psychotherapy patients were in full remission. The two treatments were equally effective in helping patients achieve partial remission, characterized by reaching a body weight of 85 percent of normal.” Almost 50% of the individuals succeed with family support!


While both family based and individual therapy did prove to help the anorexic patients, the family based therapy had a higher success rate. Enough evidence was brought fourth to prove that family based therapy is the way to go.