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Susan Cowden, MS

Modified DBT Shown to Improve Complex ED Cases

By February 12, 2013

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Researchers at the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders in Cleveland, Ohio have recently published research supporting the idea that intensive treatment using a modified form of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is effective at treating eating disorders that are complicated by other diagnoses.  This form of DBT combines empirically supported eating disorder treatments with the standard strategies of DBT treatment.

Using an intensive outpatient treatment model, researchers tracked the progress of seven adult women who had both an eating disorder diagnosis and another diagnosis such as post-traumatic stress disorder or borderline personality disorder.  All of these women had experienced previous attempts at treatment that did not work.

Results showed that the participants experienced a significant reduction in eating disorder symptoms (binge eating, purging, and food restriction), suicidal tendencies, and self-injurious behaviors.  The participants also reported a positive experience with the program as one is quoted as saying "This was the first program that made me feel empowered - all the other treatments took that away from me - they made decisions for me, made me feel helpless.  This program believed that I could figure out my problems and be skillful - that was the most important thing for me."

Although the study examined an extremely small group of women, the results are promising for those people who are suffering from multiple diagnoses and have not experienced success in previous treatments.

Do you have any experience with DBT treatments and eating disorders?


Federici, A. & Wisniewski, L. (2013). An intentsive DBT program for patients with multidiagnostic eating disorder presentations: A case series analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders. Epub ahead of print. 5 February 2013. DOI:10.1002/eat.22112

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