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(p. 45) How Well Does Exposure Therapy Work for Eating Disorders?: A Summary of the Evidence 

(p. 45) How Well Does Exposure Therapy Work for Eating Disorders?: A Summary of the Evidence
Chapter:
(p. 45) How Well Does Exposure Therapy Work for Eating Disorders?: A Summary of the Evidence
Author(s):

Carolyn Black Becker

, Nicholas R. Farrell

, and Glenn Waller

DOI:
10.1093/med-psych/9780190069742.003.0005
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date: 25 February 2020

This chapter provides an overview of the current evidence supporting the use of exposure therapy for eating disorders. Although further research is needed (because the existing research base is relatively small compared to large exposure literature for anxiety disorders), exposure is an effective approach for addressing key transdiagnostic features in eating disorders, including eating-related fear and avoidance, body image anxiety, compulsive body checking and avoidance, and binge-eating and purging behaviors. Results are drawn from a range of study types, from single case studies to large, methodically rigorous controlled trials. Importantly, several of the studies reviewed in this chapter showed that exposure was helpful for patients who had been previously unable to derive benefit from viable alternative treatments. Thus, exposure may offer a critical “missing element” in treatment protocols that have a reasonably strong evidence base and yet leave room for improvement in outcomes.

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