National Recovery Month: A Review

National Recovery Month is the perfect time to stand with our colleagues advocating for recovery. Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) dedicates September to increasing awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate those who recover from them.  The event reminds us when we “invest in health, home, purpose, and community,” recovery is possible.

Latest Findings on Remission

Evidence suggests that early treatment using specific methodologies are the most effective in helping our patients recover from eating disorders. One noteworthy finding from a recent study published in Eating Disorders Review indicates that for many patients, early responses to treatment in the form of small behavioral changes can predict positive outcomes and remission. In fact, the study finds that a patient who responds at the onset of treatment has a 77% change of experiencing a remission of symptoms at treatment’s end. It is in these critical early weeks that clinicians optimize outcomes by personalizing treatment based on the needs of each individual patient.

Tracking Outcomes 

In addition to personalizing treatment based on a patient’s unique needs, clinicians track outcomes to understand a patient’s response to treatment. This agile approach allows clinicians to make adjustments if current intervention methods are not leading to the desired change. Patients fill out questionnaires at regular intervals to give feedback on overall their overall distress levels, frequency of symptoms, and feelings about therapy itself.

CBT-E and DBT: Leading Treatments

The most effective evidence-based treatments are Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Although CBT-E is highly structured and specific, it’s powerful because it’s so customizable, addressing the root of a patient’s eating disorder. CBT-E’s efficacy is remarkable given that it’s short-term, time limited, and can be done on an individual outpatient basis.

During CBT-E treatment, a patient works one-on-one with his/her therapist to uncover the factors that allow the eating disorder to persist. Together, patients and practitioners tackle challenges one at a time in a four-stage process. The first two stages involve increasing a patient’s self-awareness and using problem-solving techniques to encourage regular, consistent eating and then reviewing progress toward that end. The next two stages address challenges and shift attention to the future by focusing on how to reduce vulnerability and address risks of relapse.

Beyond CBT-E, there is growing evidence to support Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)’s effectiveness in treating certain eating disorders. For eating disorder patients who struggle with emotional dysregulation (difficulty regulating emotional responses and behavior), DBT helps patients develop strategies to better manage their emotions. While this may be particularly true for patients with bulimia and binge eating disorders, those with anorexia nervosa may also find DBT effective. DBT has historically been used to treat bipolar disorder (BPD), and this therapeutic approach may be the most effective for 20% of eating disorder sufferers who also have BPD.

Columbus Park’s approach to DBT includes skills training group sessions, individual therapy, and brief telephone coaching calls. In any comprehensive DBT practice, treatment also includes a consultation team of DBT practitioners who meet weekly to support each therapist in his/her work, while encouraging constant growth and learning for all practitioners. As a result of this, patients benefit from a strong network of committed providers.

Learn more about treatment methodologies for eating disorders and coping strategies by reading our blog. If you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder and are based in the tri-state area, learn more about Columbus Park and the services we offer.