Therapy for Eating Disorders | Oxford
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Therapy for Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are complex conditions which can cause significant emotional pain, shame and interpersonal distress. They include diagnoses such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder as well as other more Atypical Eating Disorders (previously known as EDNOS, Eating Disorders not Otherwise Specified). Therapy for Eating Disorders forms an essential part of the clinical management of these conditions. A number of different psychotherapeutic approaches are currently used. This is reflected by the NICE guidelines for Anorexia Nervosa which cites Family therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Focal Psychodynamic Therapy and Formulation Based Therapy as beneficial treatment approaches in this disorder. (NICE 2011).


Therapy can be helpful in working with certain behaviours such as binge eating, over exercising, vomiting and restricting. It can also help with symptoms such as “feeling fat” and body image disturbance. The research into these types of experiences highlight the need for an experiential aspect to therapy, (Cooper et al 2007; Key et al 2002), which can involve the use of imagery or other methods, such as mirror exposure. The focus of this treatment is then on challenging the patient’s perception of, and relationship with, her own body.


Other treatments (such as Cognitive Analytic Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy) focus on the interpersonal aspect of Eating Disorders (Tanner et al 2003; Farrell 2015). These therapeutic approaches involve looking at why these behaviours may have arisen in an individual’s life and how one can avoid repeating these familiar but destructive patterns in times of stress.


Our vast experience of working with many clients with eating disorders using a number of these different psychological models has led us to develop a unique, collaborative method of working. At Oxford Mind & Body, we aim to work with you to help you address your issues around eating in a practical, flexible way and to recognise the underlying cause of your symptoms so that you can make the decision not to engage in these behaviours repeatedly in the future.


We aim to assess and formulate your Eating Disorder with you after our initial consultation meetings. Our practitioners are both psychodynamically trained but have both also worked with Eating Disorders clients within a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework and using other types of therapy approaches. They are therefore able to tailor an individual formulation and treatment plan to your specific personal needs. This can include either brief focussed or longer term individual psychotherapy.



  • Cooper MJ, Deepak K, Grocutt E, Bailey E. (2007). The experience of ‘feeling fat’ in women with anorexia nervosa, dieting and non-dieting women: an exploratory study. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2007 Sep; 15(5):366-72.
  • Farrell, E. (2015). A is for Anorexia: Anorexia Nervosa Explained (An ABC of Eating Disorders Book 1), Process Press Ltd.
  • Key A, George CL, Beattie D, Stammers K, Lacey H, Waller G. (2002). Body image treatment within an inpatient program for anorexia nervosa: the role of mirror exposure in the desensitization process. Int J Eat Disord. Mar; 31(2):185-90.
  • NICE guidelines [CG9] (2004). Eating disorders: Core interventions in the treatment and management of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and related eating disorders National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
  • Tanner, C. & Connan, F. (2003). Cognitive Analytic Therapy. In Handbook of Eating Disorders. Edited by J. Treasure, U. Schmidt., & E. van Furth. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. London.



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