Psychotherapists report routinely not practising evidence-based treatments. However, there is little research examining the content of therapy from the patient perspective. This study examined the self-reported treatment experiences of individuals who had been told that they had received cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) for their eating disorder. One hundred and fifty-seven such sufferers (mean age = 25.69 years) were recruited from self-help organisations.
Participants completed an online survey assessing demographics, clinical characteristics, and therapy components. The use of evidence-based CBT techniques varied widely, with core elements for the eating disorders (e.g., weighing and food monitoring) used at well below the optimum level, while a number of unevidenced techniques were reported as being used commonly. Cluster analysis showed that participants received different patterns of intervention under the therapist label of 'CBT', with evidence-based CBT being the least common. Therapist age and patient diagnosis were related to the pattern of intervention delivered. It appears that clinicians are not subscribing to a transdiagnostic approach to the treatment of eating disorders. Patient recollections in this study support the conclusion that evidence-based practice is not routinely undertaken with this client group, even when the therapy offered is described as such.
Cowdrey, N.D., & Waller G. (December 2015) Are we really delivering evidence-based treatments for eating disorders? How eating-disordered patients describe their experience of cognitive behavioral therapy. Behavior Research and Therapy, 75(72).