Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Eating Disorders
A Process-focused Guide to Treating Anorexia and BulimiaeBook - 2010
A Process-Focused Guide to Treating Eating Disorders with ACT
At some point in clinical practice, most therapists will encounter a client suffering with an eating disorder, but many are uncertain of how to treat these issues. Because eating disorders are rooted in secrecy and reinforced by our culture's dangerous obsession with thinness, sufferers are likely to experience significant health complications before they receive the help they need.Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Eating Disorders presents a thorough conceptual foundation along with a complete protocol therapists can use to target the rigidity and perfectionism at the core of most eating disorders. Using this protocol, therapists can help clients overcome anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and other types of disordered eating.
This professional guide offers a review of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as a theoretical orientation and presents case conceptualizations that illuminate the ACT process. Then, it provides session-by-session guidance for training and tracking present-moment focus, cognitive defusion, experiential acceptance, transcendent self-awareness, chosen values, and committed action-the six behavioral components that underlie ACT and allow clients to radically change their relationship to food and to their bodies. Both clinicians who already use ACT in their practices and those who have no prior familiarity with this revolutionary approach will find this resource essential to the effective assessment and treatment of all types of eating disorders.
Unlike traditional cognitive behavioral therapies, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) does not attempt to change the content or even the frequency of irrational or unproductive thoughts---it trains people to face those thoughts and respond in ways that serve their chosen values.
ACT acknowledges that eating disorder behaviors serve a purpose in that they allow sufferers to turn away from and thus temporarily alleviate unpleasant thoughts and emotions. Clients are unlikely to give up these behaviors unless they feel confident that they have other, better ways to control these painful feelings. ACT offers a powerful set of skills for helping clients set aside negative thoughts and put their vlaues first.
In numerous studies with clients suffering from eating disorders, ACT treatment has resulted in clinically significant improvements. Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Minnesota found that ACT helped clients with a history of intensive treatment for their eating disorders finally make significant, lasting gains in recovery.