Parallel Session 7

Intensive Family Therapy for Eating Disorders



Intensive family therapy is an innovative treatment which has recently been developed for the treatment of adolescent eating disorders. Owing to the growing evidence-base supporting the role of families and carers in the treatment for eating disorders, intensive family therapy adopts a multi-family format, engaging 3-6 families over the course of 40 hours of intensive treatment in one week. This novel treatment incorporates a range of therapeutic interventions drawn from diverse theoretical modalities, including family based treatment, dialectical behavioral therapy, neurobiological principles, systemic family therapy, multi family therapy, and behavioral parent management training. A recent empirical paper analyzed the long-term efficacy of this program, noting that approximately 87% of adolescents undergoing this program reported a favorable outcome, even after 31 months. As such, the dissemination of this complex and innovative program is of importance as treatment for adolescent eating disorders expands into new formats.



Although eating disorders are among the most pernicious of all psychiatric disorders, adolescent presentations typically demonstrate a more favorable prognosis. However, treatment refractory cases still abound, which alongside the absence of specialist trained clinicians, can make the recovery process challenging for many adolescents.Intensive family therapy is a novel form of multi-family therapy for adolescent eating disorders, which is delivered in a one-week treatment format. This program is designed to serve both (i) as an immersive treatment for those who do not have access to local expertise in their area, and (ii) for those who may require a higher level of support than outpatient treatment. During this workshop, a full theoretical overview of IFT will be delivered, in addition to a thorough explication of the treatment components.


Knowledge Level: to come


Presenter Biography

Dr. Stuart Murray, DClinPsych, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He has published over 70 scientific articles relating to the treatment of eating disorders, and also authored the largest outcome study to date relating to intensive family therapy. He also serves as Director of the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders, and as Co-Chair for the Academy of Eating Disorder Special Interest Group on male eating disorders. He has become particularly renowned for his approach towards novel treatment development.