Therapy for children and adolescents with eating disorders

Therapy for children and adolescents with eating disorders

It is heartbreaking to watch your child suffer. We empower you and your child with tools that will restore your child’s health.

We understand that eating disorders are not “black and white”, and every child is different.  We also know that early intervention in eating and body image concerns results in better outcomes.  The evidence-based methods we use are rooted in science to help children and adolescents improve and overcome their own unique mental health struggles.

We begin each relationship with an initial consultation, in which we take the time to get to know your child’s particular struggles and concerns with eating and body image, mood, anxiety and fears, and any concerns related to experiencing trauma.

Initial Diagnostic Evaluation and Consultation

Due to the unique nature of problematic eating and a child who struggles with food, body image and weight concerns, our first session consists of an in-depth, 90- to 120-minute assessment of current and historical eating and activity-related behaviors, co-occurring mental health concerns and history, medical history and family history.

We will then collaborate on an individualized treatment plan which often includes a family therapy component.  For some children and teens, we may recommend collaboration with a dietician, psychiatrist and/or physician. In addition, appropriateness of outpatient treatment will be assessed, and depending on the severity of your child’s symptoms, a higher level of care may be recommended.

In addition to those with eating disorders, we also treat children and teens who struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, and trauma-related concerns.


Family Based Treatment (FBT)

Family Based Treatment, also referred to as the “Maudsley Approach”, is the first-line treatment for children, adolescents, and some younger adults with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, OSFED, and ARFID. FBT empowers parents with strategies and guidance to restore their child’s health. In the FBT model, parents are viewed as the best resource for their child’s recovery, and it firmly asserts that families do not cause eating disorders.

There are three phases of FBT:


Weight restoration

Parents are empowered to take charge of meals as they help their child to reestablish regular eating patterns and to disrupt problematic eating disorder behaviors. The therapist provides instruction in how to manage the child at mealtimes.


A gradual return of control to the adolescent

Once weight is mostly restored, when eating disorder behaviors are under control and meals are less disruptive, control is gradually transferred back to the adolescent in an age-appropriate manner. This often includes the adolescent having snacks away from their parents.


Establishing healthy independence

The focus of treatment shifts to developing a healthy identity when the adolescent is not exhibiting eating disorder behaviors and when they are able to eat with age-appropriate independence.

Eating Disorders


Family Based Treatment (FBT)

CBT-E for Eating Disorders helps your teen by identifying the connections between thoughts, emotions and behaviors that relate to their eating disorder. Regulating eating, providing tools to cope with emotions and reframing eating disordered thoughts are the focus of treatment. Most times, there is some family involvement if this would benefit your child. Your teen can expect a collaborative approach in CBT, with your child’s therapist providing information and techniques for your child to practice in-between sessions. CBT is often used in the treatment of older adolescents with binge eating, picky eating and purging behaviors.

PTSD & Trauma


TF-CBT is the recommended treatment for children and adolescents who have endured a traumatic event.  is a treatment that addresses the emotional and behavioral health of children who have endured childhood trauma that is destructive and difficult to overcome.  TF-CBT helps children who have developed PTSD and mood difficulties as the result of abuse, violence or grief.  TF-CBT typically includes participation of supportive, non-offending parents and family members.

CPT is a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is generally delivered over 12 sessions, with a range of 8-18 sessions. In CPT, your teen will identify thoughts and beliefs that have been developed as a result of the traumatic event and have kept them stuck in guilt and shame.  Research has shown that CPT is an effective treatment option for adolescents who may need a more individualized approach than TF-CBT or when family involvement is not appropriate.

Anxiety and Depression


CBT helps your child by identifying the connections between your child’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors that relate to their mood and anxiety. Your child will learn tools to combat their negative and self-defeating thinking and learn new ways of coping. CBT works best when your child practices these strategies in-between sessions. CBT for children may be individual or with the parent/caregiver. CBT is an evidence-based treatment for depression and anxiety disorders in children. Below is a list of specific CBT protocols that are used for certain disorders.

  • Panic Disorder: Interoceptive Exposure Therapy (IE)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Exposure and Response Prevention
  • Phobias: Exposure Therapy

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