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Clin Psychol Rev. 2010 Jun;30(4):400-10. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.02.001. Epub 2010 Feb 14.

An eating disorder-specific model of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-ED): causal pathways and treatment implications.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.


Several studies support the efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) in the treatment of eating disorders. Treatment outcomes are likely to be augmented through a greater understanding, and hence treatment targeting, of the mechanisms whereby IPT induces therapeutic gains. To this end, the present paper seeks to develop a theoretical model of IPT in the context of eating disorders (IPT-ED). After providing a brief description of IPT, the IPT-ED model is presented and research supporting its theorized mechanisms is summarized. This model proposes that negative social evaluation plays a pivotal role as both a cause (via its detrimental impact on self evaluation and associated affect) and consequence of eating disorder symptoms. In the final section, key eating disorder constructs (namely, the developmental period of adolescence, clinical perfectionism, cognitive dysfunction, and affect regulation) are re-interpreted from the standpoint of negative social evaluation thereby further explicating IPT's efficacy as an intervention for individuals with an eating disorder.

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