Family Based Therapy for the Treatment for Eating Disorders (FBT-ED)

Is an intensive outpatient treatment that requires substantial commitment from all the family members to attend therapy sessions. This is important as the therapy asks the parental figures to assume leadership in re-feeding the malnourished child. Evidence suggest that FBT is suitable for the treatment of children up to the age of 19 with a diagnosis of an eating disorder, who are residing at home with their families, with an illness duration of less than 3 years.

FBT for Eating Disorders is commonly known as The Maudsley Model and is used to treat children and adolescents with Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa. The aim of the treatment is to assist the family, namely the parents, to bring about recovery in their child who has an eating disorder.

Naturally parents who have a child who has an eating disorder feel a range of emotions; guilt, blame, anger, sadness and fear to name a few. Parents often describe themselves as being on an emotional roller-coaster throughout the whole experience.

Core principles of the Maudsley Model:

  • 1. No one is to blame for the development of the eating disorder.
  • 2. The eating disorder is externalised or separated from the child and the eating disorder is targeted to reduce blame and criticism.
  • 3. The family are viewed as the best resource to bring about recovery.
  • 4. Hospitalisation is a short term solution for the problem.
  • 5. Each family member is assigned a specific role FBT is suitable for people under the age of 19 who have had their eating disorder for three years or less.

Treatment typically occurs over a 12-month period and is highly structured consisting of three phases:

  • Phase One: Refeeding and Weight Restoration. The parents are charged with the responsibility of refeeding their child and containing eating disorder behaviours.
    The clinician coaches the parents to manage problematic eating disorder behaviours and brainstorm barriers to refeeding.
  • Phase Two: Returning Control of Eating to the Adolescent. The parents gradually hand back control of eating to their child whilst managing any lapses.
    Family issues and relationships are simultaneously addressed as the focus slowly moves away from weight and food.
  • Phase Three: Addressing Adolescent Issues and Treatment Completion. The final stage assumes that the young person is weight restored and in control of their eating behaviours.
    The focus is on addressing normal adolescent issues and strengthening a sense of identity without the eating disorder.

FBT processes can seem daunting at first but with expert care you will be assisted every step of the way to the recovery of your child.
Research shows the sooner you intervene, the better recovery outcomes for your child.