A systematic review of dialectical behavior therapy for the treatment of eating disorders

Eat Disord. 2012;20(3):196-215. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2012.668478.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been proposed as an effective treatment for eating disorders (EDs). We conducted a systematic literature review to locate refereed journal articles testing DBT for the treatment of EDs. We identified 13 studies empirically evaluating treatment efficacy across various settings. Findings, based on mostly uncontrolled trials, indicate that DBT treatments appear effective in addressing ED behaviors and other forms of psychopathology in ED samples. The expectation that improvements in emotion regulation capabilities drive reductions in ED pathology was not fully supported. Further research is necessary to confirm the efficacy of modified DBT treatments for EDs.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome