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UPDATE: Chat Group Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October Volume 26, Number 5
©2015 IAEDP

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered in an online chat group format was an effective step between self-help and traditional face-to-face therapy for patients, according to results of a study presented as oral scientific paper at the ICED in Boston. Dr. Stephanie Zerwas, University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, Chapel Hill, and colleagues reported that in a control study of 149 bulimia nervosa patients (3% were males) randomized to chat group therapy or to traditional face to face CBT, abstinence from binge eating and purging and the frequency of binge eating and purging were very similar in the two groups, and the online chat approach was not inferior to traditional CBT. Both groups had 16 sessions of CBT over 20 weeks, and the groups were made up of 4 to 5 patients and 1 therapist. The face-to-face group met in the hospital and used a paper method for self-monitoring. But why bring CBT online? The authors gave a number of reasons for taking CBT online: anonymity, fewer barriers to treatment, such as geography, time, and cost, and lack of stigma, as well as access to specialist treatment.

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