Changing Perspectives to Treat Eating Disorders

eating disorder helpA new therapy could help women suffering with eating disorders by changing the way they view themselves.


People suffering with eating disorders often have distorted ideas of beauty and their own self-image. They are striving to mould themselves into their idea of beauty but their own mind keeps moving the goal posts and pushing them to further their eating disorder. 

 Now though, a new form of therapy is showing promise in helping EDs change how they see themselves and accept their bodies. Cognitive Bias Modification, or CBM for short, was tested on 88 women at risk of developing an eating disorder. The testing was done by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. They found that after a single session, the women experienced a number of positive effects.


They witnessed changes in their target beliefs, eating disorder activities, intrusive thoughts anxiety and depression. Some of the effects lingered for as long as a week after the treatment.
“We found CBM changed the participants’ negative beliefs which in turn changed their

behaviours and thoughts related to eating, weight, and shape. Completing this training changed how the women thought and felt when they saw themselves in a mirror, weighed themselves and it changed how much they ate,” said lead author Jenny Yiend, Ph.D., from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s.


This type of treatment has already shown promise in treating things like depression and anxiety. Treatment of eating disorders would seem to be a natural step for this type of therapy.
What makes this treatment especially promising is the fact that it forgoes the usual focus on food and body image. Most ED treatments centre on these issues. The problem is that simply convincing someone with an ED to eat a few pieces of food can be exhausting.


With CMB, the treatment works to change a person’s perspective on their life and the reasons behind their actions. This avoids some of the more sensitive topics while still helping the patient.

To learn more about eating disorders, check out the Life Works Knowledge Centre.

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