A randomized controlled trial of guided imagery in bulimia nervosa

Psychol Med. 1998 Nov;28(6):1347-57. doi: 10.1017/s0033291798007405.


Background: The objective of this study was to test a guided imagery therapy designed to enhance self-comforting in bulimia nervosa.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial compared 6 weeks of individual guided imagery therapy with a control group. Fifty participants who met DSM-III-R criteria for bulimia nervosa completed the study. Measures of eating disorder symptoms, psychological functioning and the experience of guided imagery therapy were administered.

Results: The guided imagery treatment had substantial effects on the reduction of bingeing and purging episodes; the imagery group had a mean reduction of binges of 74% and of vomiting of 73%. The imagery treatment also demonstrated improvement on measures of attitudes concerning eating, dieting and body weight in comparison to the control group. In addition, the guided imagery demonstrated improvement on psychological measures of aloneness and the ability for self-comforting.

Conclusions: Evidence from this study suggests that guided imagery was an effective treatment for bulimia nervosa, at least in the short-term.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Bulimia / therapy*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy*
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome