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Independent research shows effectiveness of online CBT for Bulimia sufferers and Carers of those with Anorexia

21st February 2011

Recently published research conducted by leading UK academics in the field of Eating Disorders shows that the use of online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  (iCBT) with e-mail support is efficacious for bulimia sufferers and has lasting effects. Also  in a second study there was found to be a significant reduction in Anorexia carers’ anxiety and depression, negative experiences of care giving and expressed emotion and a significant increase in positive experiences in care giving after using the online intervention.
The research was conducted on study groups using online software developed by Media Innovations - the Leeds based medical technology firm that converts academic research into educational, self-help and diagnostic support packages. Two products, Overcoming Bulimia online and Overcoming Anorexia online were developed in partnership with internationally recognised Eating Disorder experts and Beat, the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families
The intervention for Bulimia which can be found at www.overcomingbulimiaonline.com  helps users develop structured CBT skills using video, sound and interactive questions. The materials lead the user clearly through a process of identifying issues in their life and shows them how to develop strategies to change their current situation for the better.
Descriptions of the package by users include, “straight-forward, easy and user-friendly”, “…a way of being in control because of the convenience of online access”, alongside this they often report being more comfortable using a computer than speaking directly with a therapist”.

Individuals can be supported and monitored by their practitioner, therapist or counsellor who can check the user’s progress online. The intervention offers healthcare providers a high-quality, low-cost intervention, supporting such schemes as ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) by helping individuals to get immediate help and support.
The widely acclaimed intervention www.overcominganorexiaonline.com  teaches family or supporters of Anorexia sufferers the skills necessary to identify the issues surrounding this serious disorder and how to become expert carers. The carer or family member works through 8 sessions to help them  understand the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the anorexia sufferer.  Topics include effective communication, how to prevent relapse, meal support, self-management in crises, and dealing with binging, purging and other difficult behaviours.
Both interventions have a forum available for users to share their experiences and support each other. One carer on the Overcoming Anorexia forum wrote that, “The information included in this programme has taught me some things I was still unaware of even after six years of reading books and attending therapy sessions with my daughter. It is an opportunity to off load fears and concerns and the annoyance I sometimes feel towards my daughter. I know that what I say will be treated confidentially, be heard by someone who understands my situation and once I have got things off my chest I feel I can put it aside for a while. I would urge anyone else who is caring for a person with an eating disorder to think about joining this programme - you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.”

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