Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is generally thought of as being one of the most successful psychotherapies for bulimia, or bulimia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder where the sufferer will often binge on extremes of food and then force themselves to throw it up to prevent themselves from gaining weight. Many sufferers report a feeling of loss of control whilst bingeing and the purging is often their way of gaining back that control.
CBT, especially when combined with hypnosis, is a very effective and quick therapy. When dealing with bulimia, CBT aims to interrupt the old thinking processes associated with the issue, such as the preoccupation with food or weight, the ‘all or nothing’ thought process and the low self esteem that generally comes with bulimia. It also aims to interrupt the ‘binge-purge’ cycle.
Many therapists will ask their patients to keep a food diary and give feedback on the meal plans, triggers of thought processes, etc. CBT and hypnosis are used to challenge these old patterns. Around 50 per cent of bulimics are able to stop the binge-purge cycle using CBT. From the remaining 50 per cent, many show partial improvement and only a small minority do not respond. Sometimes, bulimia is a symptom of a food-obsessed family background so occasionally, family therapy is also recommended to decrease the chance of a relapse.