Cognitive-behavioral guided self-help for eating disorders: Effectiveness and scalability
Given the well-documented shortage of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for eating disorders, there is a compelling need for advances in dissemination. Guided self-help based on cognitive-behavioral principles (CBTgsh) provides a robust means of improving implementation and scalability of evidence-based treatment for eating disorders. It is a brief, cost-effective treatment that can be implemented by a wide range of mental health providers, including non-specialists, via face-to-face contact and internet-based technology. Controlled studies have shown that CBTgsh can be an effective treatment for binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, although it is contraindicated for anorexia nervosa. Several studies have shown that CBTgsh can be as effective as more complex specialty therapies and that it is not necessarily contraindicated for patients with comorbid conditions. Mental health providers with relatively minimal professional credentials have in some studies obtained results comparable to specialized clinicians. Establishing the nature of optimal "guidance" in CBTgsh and the level of expertise and training required for effective implementation is a research priority. Existing manuals used in CBTgsh are outdated and can be improved by incorporating the principles of enhanced transdiagnostic CBT. Obstacles to wider adoption of CBTgsh are identified.
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