Effects of the Treatment Modality and Therapeutic Environment in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa
Flynn, Mellany K.
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How we think about things has an important role in determining how we feel. Adding environmental factors to the picture often complicates matters, too. For people who suffer from psychological and emotional disturbances, these issues frequently become intertwined to a degree such that it becomes difficult to determine when and why their problems originated. One psychological disorder that illustrates this is anorexia nervosa, one of two of the most serious and well-known eating disorders. Although much research has been conducted on the etiologies and treatments of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, much remains to be learned. Presently, cognitive-behavior therapy is one of the most popular therapies used to treat eating disorders. In observing this method of treatment for eating disordered patients, however, some questions have arisen about the effectiveness of this treatment for one of those disorders, anorexia nervosa. Furthermore, because the therapy I witnessed was conducted in an outpatient setting, I found myself wondering just what role the environment plays in the treatment of such an illness. In reflecting on my own observations and in reviewing the literature on this subject, I wondered: was it the type of treatment that made a difference in the effective treatment of anorexia nervosa, the environment treatment was conducted in, or perhaps both? I concluded that anorexia nervosa seems to be caused and/or maintained in large part by environmental factors. Additionally, its effective treatment might necessitate the use of a therapy that focuses on modifying behaviors rather than on modifying underlying distortions in cognition. Finally, it appears that the type of treatment setting significantly contributes to the outcome of therapy.
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