Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders in Children & Adolescents

Specialists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone offer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for adolescents with bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.  Sometimes, younger children with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder can participate in behavioral therapy with their parents involved.

CBT aims to lessen a person’s anxiety about eating by changing the beliefs or behaviors that help him or her maintain the negative emotions. This type of therapy has two main parts: the cognitive component, which helps people change how they think about a situation; and the behavioral component, which helps people change how they react to the situation.

CBT may help adolescents or younger children cope with issues that trigger binge-eating episodes, such as negative feelings about the body or a depressed mood. After identifying triggers and distorted thinking patterns related to eating, weight, and shape, the child or teen works with a specially trained therapist to change irrational thinking and build emotion and behavior regulation skills. The goal is to give him or her a better sense of control over thoughts, behavior, and eating patterns.

During therapy sessions, your child learns how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence each other. To eliminate unwanted feelings or problematic behaviors, the therapist teaches your child strategies for modifying his or her thoughts and responding differently during certain situations.

CBT is a short-term, problem-focused approach. Our therapists have many years of experience using it to treat people of all ages with eating disorders. Our experts can meet with children and teens individually or in an age-appropriate group.

Resources for Eating Disorders in Children & Adolescents
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