November 22, 2016

Family-Based Therapy for Adolescents with Anorexia

Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most treatment resistant illnesses that an adolescent and their family can face.  People with Anorexia will go to great lengths to maintain a low weight and unhealthy relationship with food.  It is neither the individual’s fault nor the families.  Although the direct cause of Anorexia is not known, genetic, cultural, and major stressful life events may be contributing factors.  Not only can Anorexia be life threatening but it can also cause other significant health consequences, including growth retardation, pubertal delay or arrest, reduction in bone mass, hepatic steatosis (fatty liver), neurological disorders (seizures, tremors, confusion), abnormalities of gait, Vitamin B1 deficiency, acute pancreatitis, and delayed stomach emptying and other gastrointestinal problems.

Family-Based Therapy, also known as the Maudsley Approach, is an intensive outpatient approach to treating adolescents with Anorexia.  This approach understands that the family, most commonly the parents, are essential in the treatment of Anorexia.  Families are supported as they help restore their child’s  weight back into a normal range for their height and age and eventually hand control over eating back to the adolescent, allowing the adolescent to return to normal developmental progress.