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Family therapy for anorexia nervosa

What is family therapy for anorexia?

Family therapy for anorexia is an evidence-based intervention for patients with an anorexia nervosa diagnosis.

It is an intensive outpatient therapeutic approach where parents play an active and supportive role to help restore your child or young person’s weight to normal levels whilst encouraging culturally appropriate teenage development.

What are the benefits?

It involves the whole family to help your child or young person to overcome the battle with their anorexia.

It focuses on behavioural changes for your child or young person, as well as coaching parents and carers to feel re-skilled.

Regular physical monitoring reduces medical repercussions and increases the chances of a complete recovery.

What can I expect?

Family therapy for anorexia uses 4 phases:

Phase 1

You will asked to be in complete charge of meals to help your child or young person re-establish regular patterns of eating to restore their weight.

The therapist will support you to take on the task of re-feeding. This involves supporting both you and your child or young person, to feel in control by emotionally regulating and opening communication. Coaching may include facilitating therapeutic meals at a clinical base or at home.

Phase 2

Once their weight is mostly restored, meals times are going well and eating disorder behaviours are more under your child or young person’s control, they can begin to take back some control of their dietary intake.

Phase 3

Next, the focus is on helping your child or young person to develop a healthy identity around eating and other aspects of their life.

There maybe sadness, depression, anxiety or other emotional or mental health difficulties that need to be thought about and supported.

Phase 4

Finally, you will be managing, transitions and furthering goals round relationships, activities, education or future plans are explored.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact 0114 305 3891.

Sheffield Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Team,
Centenary CAMHS,
Centenary House,
55 Albert Terrace Road,
S6 3BR.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: MH33

Resource Type: Article

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