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Susan Cowden, MS

Family Therapy or Individual Therapy?

By October 30, 2012

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Deciding what treatment philosophy and level of care is right for you and your family can be a tricky decision.  Everyone needs to have a personalized treatment plan, but it is also important to take into account the types of treatment research supports.

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Chicago have compared the difference in outcomes between family-based treatment (also known as Maudsley) and adolescent focused individual therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa.  The study included over 100 adolescent participants, all with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.  The participants were randomly assigned to either 12 months of family-based treatment or 12 months of individual therapy and were assessed at the beginning of the study, at the end of treatment and at 6 and 12 month follow-up after treatment ended.

At the end of the 12 month treatment protocol, there was no statistical difference in full remission rates between the two treatments.  However, at both 6 month and 12 month follow-up, family based treatment was shown to be statistically superior to individual therapy - meaning that those participants who participated in the family-based treatment had fewer relapses and made more progress in recovery than those who only received adolescent focused individual therapy.

Do you have experience with either family-based or adolescent focused treatment for anorexia nervosa?


Lock, J., LeGrange, D., Agras, W.S., Moye, A., Bryson, S.W., Jo, B. Randomized clinical trial comparing family-based treatment to adolescent focused individual therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Archives of General Psychiatry. 67(10). 1025-1032.

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November 3, 2012 at 2:38 am
(1) Tammie Grey says:

I’m not anorexic. Based from what I know, you should have the support of your family when you are encountering this eating disorder. If teenagers are let alone by themselves, the therapy might not be successful as they will only follow what they want.

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