Development of Emotion Acceptance Behavior Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa: A Case Series

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This case series describes the development of a novel psychotherapeutic intervention for older adolescents and adults with anorexia nervosa (AN). Emotion acceptance behavior therapy (EABT) is based on a model that emphasizes the role of anorexic symptoms in facilitating avoidance of emotions. EABT combines standard behavioral interventions that are central to the clinical management of AN with psychotherapeutic techniques designed to increase emotion awareness, decrease emotion avoidance, and encourage resumption of valued activities and relationships outside the eating disorder. Five patients with AN aged 17–43 years were offered a 24-session manualized version of EABT. Four patients completed at least 90% of the therapy sessions, and three showed modest weight gains without return to intensive treatment. Improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms, emotion avoidance, and quality of life also were observed. These results offer preliminary support for the potential utility of EABT in the treatment of older adolescents and adults with AN.

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