Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder

Status: Strong Research Support


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for binge eating disorder directly targets the cardinal features of the disorder, namely binge eating and its associated loss of control and distress. Importantly, this treatment aims to resolve the maladaptive eating patterns that maintain the binge eating. CBT for binge eating disorder is conducted in approximately twenty weekly sessions, which encompass three phases. For obese individuals with binge eating disorder, the first phase of treatment explicitly addresses the need to prioritize cessation of binge eating over immediate weight loss, and helps the patient establish a regular pattern of eating and an appropriate weight monitoring schedule. Nutritional education is provided and regular exercise is encouraged. In the second phase, the focus shifts to reducing shape and weight concerns and expanding one’s definition of self-worth, and challenging notions of food addiction or other cognitions that may perpetuate the binge eating. The third phase is devoted to maintenance planning and the prevention of relapse in the future. In CBT, the therapist works collaboratively with the patient to disrupt the factors maintaining the binge eating with the goal to achieve abstinence from this behavior. This treatment can be delivered in either individual or group formats. Therapists can also guide patients in a self-help version of CBT for binge eating disorder.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

Clinical Resources

Training Opportunities