Other approaches

There are also many other therapies available if your son finds he is not suited to the ones mentioned above. For example, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidelines in January 2004 which advocated several psychological treatments which have been successfully adapted for anorexia nervosa including:

• Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT). This is a psychological treatment in which a therapist works with a person to help them to make positive changes in their lives and to build a future. This can require understanding what has prevented them from making changes in the past and improving the way they cope with problems. CAT is 'analytic' in the sense that it explores unconscious motivations.

• Interpersonal therapy (IPT). This is a specific form of psychotherapy that is designed to help patients identify and address current interpersonal problems. In this treatment there is no emphasis on directly modifying eating habits; rather, it is expected that they will change as interpersonal functioning improves.

• Focal psychodynamic therapy. This therapy works at identifying and focusing on a central conflict or difficulty in a person's early life that is having an impact on that person's current problems.

There is also the enormous field of alternative or complementary therapies, which you might want to try one or more of. We tried magnetic field therapy with Joe, although it didn't really suit him. Complementary therapies can be expensive, but some are available on the NHS. It is important to check whether your therapist is properly qualified before proceeding with complementary therapy. Examples of complementary therapies often used to tackle emotional problems and to aid relaxation include:



• reflexology


There is no doubt that therapy is a crucial part of an anorexic's treatment programme. As you can see there are many choices, but your son's medical team should be well qualified to come up with a suitable programme for him. Therapy is difficult. You are trying to address extremely complex emotional feelings. There is no magic cure, but if you find the right therapy programme for your son he will have made a big step towards recovery.

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