How Family-Based Therapy Can Help Treat Eating Disorders


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Teamwork is often much more effective than taking on tasks alone. This especially applies when working with your family and some of the closest people in your life. When healing from eating disorders, treatment approaches like family therapy provide an effective solution for many that also strengthens family relationships. Let’s take a closer look at this specific treatment method and how family therapy can aid clients and their families alike.

What Is Family-Based Therapy?

Family-based therapy (FBT), also called “Maudsley Method,” is one of the many eating disorder treatment methods provided by most treatment centers. The basis of family therapy is to support families and their loved one in their recovery process, giving them a space to grow and become directly involved in the client’s treatment. Eating disorders can take a tremendous toll on every aspect of a family, and this program works to re-center the family as they heal together.

How Does FBT Work?

During family-based therapy, parents and their child are guided by medical professionals and clinicians on how to navigate through thoughts and behaviors around food and nutrition. It’s a significant change for families and a major commitment for parents. Even siblings can be an essential part of the process. While certain aspects, like sibling and parent relationships, play a role in its effectiveness, it’s an option that can significantly impact the individual’s recovery journey. As FBT progresses, parents begin to transition the decision-making process over to the child.

The Core Principles at the Heart of FBT:

  • FBT externalizes the illness. The eating disorder is seen as an external force taking a toll on the child and is treated as such.
  • FBT takes an agnostic view of the disorder. Family-based therapy understands that causes of eating disorders are complex and multifactorial but the focus is not to identify each factor, but on the recovery process itself.
  • FBT urges therapists to take a nonauthoritarian stance. This empowers families to have the confidence to help their child. Parents are viewed as experts on their children, and therapists will incorporate parental expertise into the treatment.
  • FBT focuses on providing fueling nutrition and preventing disordered eating behaviors. The parents decide what food and when it is being served, and the training teaches them how to work with their child who is struggling to eat because of ED.

Find Your Family-Based Therapy Program with Selah House

With Selah House, finding the right eating disorder treatment for you is our ultimate goal. Together, we can formulate the programs that fit best to get you or a loved one on the path toward taking back control of their lives. Our family therapy programs help you and your family members discover how to live life together again with adequate support. Selah House welcomes your family with open arms, so don’t hesitate to contact us today or give us a call at 765.819.2524 to make a plan that works for your family.



Edited by: Libby Parker, MS, RD, CDN, CEDS

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