Psychotherapy for Eating Disorders in Children & Adolescents

Experts at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, offer psychotherapy to help children and teens overcome an eating disorder. The goal of therapy is to change a person’s thoughts and feelings about food and weight—and, as a result, improve his or her eating habits and nutrition.

Psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, involves speaking with a mental health professional to treat a mental illness. Psychotherapy can occur one-on-one or in a group setting, or both.

Psychotherapy helps people with anorexia or bulimia to change thinking patterns and behaviors that maintain illness, as well as improve attitudes toward weight and body image. It also addresses self-esteem, stress, friendships, and family relationships, with an emphasis on building adaptive strategies and coping skills. This process may include dispelling myths, generating alternate behaviors such as a regular pattern of eating, restructuring cognitive distortions, and building interpersonal skills.

Eating disorders commonly occur with other psychiatric disorders, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other anxiety disorders. These and other coexisting conditions can also be treated through psychotherapy at the Child Study Center.

The length of therapy varies depending on a child’s diagnosis and symptoms. Treatment for a mild eating disorder may be relatively short, requiring as few as five or six sessions. More severe eating disorders may require therapy that can last six months to a year or longer.

Resources for Eating Disorders in Children & Adolescents
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