Eating disorders in Adolescents

Recently I attended a Maudsley workshop on the Gold Coast to learn about the latest and most successful method, with a current 60% success rate, for the treatment of the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and anorexia bulimia.


The convention was facilitated at Robina Hospital under the expertise of Senior Psychologist, Kim Hurst who has been implementing the 3 phase program of family therapy into her practice over the last 6 years for adolescents inflicted with the disease along with their families who are directly affected by their child’s debilitative illness.

It was very interesting and enriching to partake in role play scenarios exemplifying the paramount importance of an empathic and non-judgemental approach being afforded to the adolescents undergoing such interventions whilst emphasizing the initial phase of re-feeding with supportive parental supervision of all meals. Such responsibility of the parents whilst remaining realistic and persistent in their continual reinforcement of the absolute necessity of having them consume food is integral to achieving progress so the adolescent isn’t faced with their own mortality.

The actions of the anorexic adolescent is externalised thereby distinguishing the evil and cruel tactics of the anorexic mindset from the actual adolescent themself who has only recently been infiltrated with such corruptive anorexic thoughts and consequently become subjected to such torture. Such externalisation allows the blame to be removed from the struggling adolescent and encourages open in-depth communication between the adolescent and their family so that the emotions and consequent actions of all family members are surfaced facilitating a much more supportive and understanding springboard from which to jointly tackle the trials and torment of the retched illness. In order to be successful in the long haul of treatment parents need to become somewhat immune to the criticisms of their adolescent child for making them eat because of their food needing and thereby remain strong and continually focused on the importance of their regular nutrition.

As the adolescent is slowly restored to a much more nourishing and well balanced diet they develop a much improved cognitive understanding of the seriousness of their plight and the continual need for improved nutrition in order to be able to attain their desired goals and achieve equilibrium by developing the homeostatic balance to function normally as a somewhat independent teenager.

There is accumulating evidence substantiating the successes of the Maudsley family based therapy program in the treatment of anorexia and bulimia(for which there is also a manual) giving efficacy to its implementation in ameliorating adolescents inflicted with the devastative illness.


I intend to incorporate the principles of the Maudsley method of treatment when counselling anorexic adolescents and their respective families when they have been inflicted with the illness for up to 3 years and will not hesitate to refer any cases that are not successful with some weight gain under my assistance after 4 weeks duration.