Challenging rigidity in Anorexia (treatment, training and supervision): questioning manual adherence in the face of complexity

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Background: Anorexia Nervosa is a debilitating illness. While there have been many advancements to treatment protocols and outcomes for people with eating disorders, the field acknowledges there remains considerable room for improvement. This timely Special Edition of the Journal of Eating Disorders has invited those of us in the field to consider a range of topics in aid of this task, including potential modifications and implementation of evidence-based practice, specific and common psychotherapy factors, treatment manuals, adherence and individualising treatment approaches for individuals and families. Body: In this paper, we briefly outline the key manualised treatments currently available to treat children, adolescents and adults with Anorexia Nervosa, considering the benefits, potential reasons for adaptations and limitations. We then review the current evidence for training strict adherence to treatment manuals which is often a key focus in training and supervision, questioning the association of increased treatment adherence with improved therapeutic outcome. We then summarise some key evidence behind other therapeutic factors which have been demonstrated to affect outcome regardless of which manual is implemented, such as readiness to change and therapeutic alliance. Conclusion: The paper concludes with implications and considerations for future research, clinical guidelines, training and supervision, highlighting the need to consider the therapeutic relationship and processes alongside manual content to conduct best evidence-informed practice.




Robertson, A., & Thornton, C. (2021, December 1). Challenging rigidity in Anorexia (treatment, training and supervision): questioning manual adherence in the face of complexity. Journal of Eating Disorders. BioMed Central Ltd.

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