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Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2001 Jul;10(3):519-42, viii.

Family therapy for eating disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, USA.


It is a perpetual source of debate whether dysfunctional family communication and relationship patterns cause eating disorders or the stress associated with raising a child with an eating disorder elicits such problems. Regardless, family therapy is a necessary component of any comprehensive biopsychosocial approach to the treatment of eating disorders. A careful assessment of the entire family, including the identified patient; his or her parents and siblings; the parents' marriage and families of origin; the child's emotional, social, and physical development; parental regulation of developmental stages; and communication patterns is mandatory. Family therapy for eating-disordered patients attempts to facilitate the elimination of potentially life-threatening symptoms and begin a therapeutic process of change within the entire family. Research has shown significant support for the use of family therapy in this population, but well-controlled treatment outcome research remains somewhat limited.

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