Therapy for Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder

What are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are characterized by rigid patterns of eating behavior that are unhealthy and cause significant health, emotional, and/or functional impairment. Eating disorders can often cause significant health issues and in severe cases can be life-threatening.

Some of the most notable eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and anorexia nervosa although any persistent pattern of unhealthy eating behavior can pose serious health consequences and may warrant treatment. People who are suffering with an eating disorder are most often also experiencing difficulties with other mental health issues, in particular anxiety and depression.


Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders

anxiety, irritability, anger, depressed mood, shame, fear, mood swings

excessive fear of gaining weight, preoccupation with diet and/or calorie intake, distorted body image, uncontrollable worry, difficulties with concentration and focus


weight fluctuation (up or down), gastrointestinal issues, menstrual irregularities, dizziness, fainting, persistently feeling cold, difficulties with sleep, cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (i.e., from inducing vomiting), dental problems (e.g., enamel erosion, cavities), poor wound healing dry skin and hair, brittle fingernails and toenails, swelling around area of salivary glands, lanugo (i.e., fine hair on body), muscle weakness,

restricting food intake, skipping meals, binging (eating excessive amounts in a short period of time), purging (forced vomiting, use of laxatives, excessive exercise), frequent dieting, excessive physical exercise, avoiding eating in the presence of others


Treatment Approaches for Eating Disorders

The treatment of eating disorders is often multifaceted and typically includes various medical professionals including physicians, dieticians, and psychotherapists. In moderate and severe cases, treatment should be received in a structured, monitored environment such as a hospital or intensive outpatient program (IOP). At Third Wave, we offer outpatient psychotherapy and provide treatment for individuals who are medically stable.




CBT is an effective, common psychotherapeutic treatment for eating disorders disorders. CBT therapists assist individuals with identifying and challenging unhelpful cognitive patterns, analyzing the connection between thoughts and behaviors, and developing more effective thought processes and behavioral patterns.


DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of eating disorders. DBT emphasizes behavior change and learning new skills to navigate difficult emotions and relationships.


ACT is a behaviorally-oriented therapeutic approach that aims to modify how a person relates and responds to their internal experiences (i.e., thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and urges) in order to more fully engage in values-based behaviors.

Learn More About Eating Disorders

Articles, resources, and other helpful information about eating disorders

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