Family Based Therapy (FBT), also referred to as the Maudsley method, is a first-line approach to a range of adolescent eating difficulties and disorders. In Family Based Therapy, clinicians do not analyse why the eating difficulty developed, rather they work within the family structure, joining parent and child together to over come the disorder. Sessions of FBT typically involve the whole family and may include an opportunity to eat a family meal together with your psychologist.
Research has shown that FBT tends to work faster than other treatments as it assigns the transition to fulsome meals and nutrition back to the parents, enabling them with coaching skills to assist their child on a daily basis from within the home environment.
Phase 1: Parents take control of meals in order to assist their child in establishing a routine around eating. This interactive approach interrupts disordered eating behaviours such as bingeing, purging or overexercise. During this time, clinicians work closely with parents and carers to impart skills for managing their child at mealtimes.
Phase 2: Once weight is being restored, mealtimes are going well, and behaviours such as bingeing, purging or overexercise have ceased, control can slowly be handed back to the child. This transfer of control is done in an age appropriate manner while paying close attention to any relapse that may occur. If necessary, parents may have to reassert control in order to ensure forward progression, this is to be expected during the therapeutic process.
Phase 3: When independence is established and disordered eating behaviours are no longer displayed, the focus of FBT becomes establishing a healthy sense of identity and catching-up on any developmental issues that may have arisen simultaneous with the eating challenges. FBT will also address the family as a whole now that the child’s health is restored.