Relationship-Focused Therapy for Bulimia and Binge Eating: Introduction to the Special Section

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Abstract

Individuals with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder commonly report co-occurring interpersonal problems, and treatment that focuses on relationships and relational functioning has shown benefit relative to other forms of treatment. Relational psychotherapy for eating disorders can vary on several important dimensions, such as how structured and symptom-focused versus exploratory and patient-directed it is, whether it focuses on past relationships and patterns in relationships over time versus focusing on current relationships, and whether it includes the relationship with the therapist as an explicit topic of conversation and mechanism for relational change. The cases in this special section provide the opportunity to closely compare 3 therapeutic approaches on each of these dimensions. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Bulimia Nervosa, Integrative Dynamic Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa, and Interpersonal Psychotherapy for the Prevention of Weight Gain and Eating Disorders are each highly distinct approaches. The authors of each case explain the intended mechanisms of treatment response, the measures that assess changes in eating disorder symptoms as well as the mechanisms of change, and provide extensive excerpts from case material to demonstrate and illustrate the particular evidence-based treatment. Therapists and researchers may usefully consider the process and outcome variables described in these interpersonal approaches.

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