Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa: An Update

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Jan;18(1):2. doi: 10.1007/s11920-015-0643-4.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anorexia nervosa (AN), based on Beck's cognitive theory, was developed in a "generic" form in the early eighties. In recent years, however, improved knowledge of the mechanisms involved in maintaining eating disorder psychopathology has led to the development of a "specific" form of CBT, termed CBT-E (E = enhanced), designed to treat all forms of eating disorders, including AN, from outpatient to inpatient settings. Although more studies are required to assess the relative effectiveness of CBT-E with respect to other available treatments, the data indicate that in outpatient settings it is both viable and promising for adults and adolescents with AN. Encouraging results are also emerging from inpatient CBT-E, particularly in adolescents, and clinical services offering CBT-E at different levels of care are now offered in several countries around the world. However, CBT-E requires dissemination in order to become widely available to patients.

Keywords: Adolescence; Anorexia nervosa; Bulimia nervosa; Cognitive behavior therapy; Eating disorders; Inpatient treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa* / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa* / therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Psychopathology
  • Treatment Outcome