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There are several different types of eating disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and each is categorized under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. Eating disorders are neurological disorders that are loosely characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. Young people that suffer from eating disorders often struggle with malnutrition such as a lack of essential minerals and nutrients. The three most common eating disorders among adolescents are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder (BED). Recent data estimates up to 24 million people of all ages and genders currently suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S., and 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Further, experts assert that 13% of adolescents will develop an eating disorder by the age of 20. The New York Times notes that early identification and intervention play a key role in treatment outcome and long-term recovery.

Systemic Family Therapy

Systemic family therapy, also known as the Milan approach to family therapy, views a family as a single system, with a series of symbiotic systems embedded within it. This technique believes that a family member develops symptoms to cope with the behaviors of other members of the family. Identifying stagnant patterns of behavior within a living system and changing one person’s actions, can help shift the entire family system, as everyone is believed to be interconnected. Eating disorders can dominate family functioning and intensify patterns of dysfunction. Systemic family therapy can help educate family members regarding the complexities of eating disorders, and how to best support one’s recovery process (e.g., mealtime support, etc.). The primary goal of the facilitating clinician is to remain a neutral figure while challenging family members to question their knowledge of the family system (a technique referred to as circular questioning) and approach problems as they are created in a social and linguistically influenced reality. There is a significant body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach for the treatment of children with eating disorders, and it is considered the leading evidence-based approach for treating young people with anorexia nervosa.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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