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Family Based Therapy


Family Based Therapy with young girl smiling after therapy session, WholeHeart Psychotherapy in Atlanta

Family Based Therapy (FBT)

Alternative Option To A Treatment Facility

Do you suspect your child has an eating disorder (ED)? Has your child received a recent ED diagnosis and you’re feeling overwhelmed or scared about which treatment modality is most effective? Family Based Treatment (FBT) is an evidence based treatment model that has between a 75-90% success rate, at the five year post treatment mark (Eisler I. Le Grange D. Asen KE. Family interventions. In: Treasure J, editor; Schmidt U, editor; van Furth E, editor. Handbook of eating disorders. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley; 2003. pp. 291–310.). This treatment model may be an alternative option to your child receiving care at a treatment facility, and allows for parents to carry out interventions within the home, with the support of the FBT specialist.

Ready To Start The Healing Process?

Start The Healing Process

FBT is an intensive 3-stage model.
Learn More About These Stages Below.

Stage 1

The primary focus of phase one is medical stability, which may include weight restoration. Parents take complete control of preparing and plating food for their child, and all meals are supervised. Medical monitoring may also be required.

Stage 2

The “experimental phase”, which focuses on gradually handing back control to the child (related to food), where the child is working on increasing trust as well as their intrinsic motivation for recovery.

Stage 3

The child has regained trust and returns to their normal development. Families work to identify upcoming challenges for their child, as they move through their adolescence, and support them with learning healthy coping skills so they do not return to ED behaviors as a method of coping.



How Long Does FBT Take?


This varies from person to person and from family to family as well as the severity of the ED. On average FBT takes six months to a year.


My child is also struggling with anxiety and depression, does FBT help with that?


When one is inflicted with an eating disorder, their brain is lacking the ability to process emotions. Once your child is eating appropriately, the brain becomes nourished and we can then tackle other co-occurring disorders. Additionally, with better nutrition the severity of other co-occurring disorders generally dissipate, or become less severe.


My child’s eating disorder “is not that bad”, should we wait to do FBT?


No! Eating disorders are life threatening illnesses and have the highest mortality rate of mental health disorders among adolescents (Chesney E, Goodwin GM, Fazel S. Risks of All-cause and Suicide Mortality in Mental Disorders: a meta-review. World Psychiatry. 2014 June;13). Additionally, early intervention helps stop the quick progression of an eating disorder.


Does my child need a dietician as part of the care team?


FBT puts the trust in parents to make appropriate decisions around the type and amount of food their child needs to recover. However, there are specific instances when a dietician may be recommended. For example, if there are medical complications or risks involved, or if you are seeking additional support.

If you think FBT may be the right choice for your family, please reach out to schedule a consultation call with either Cassandra Barro, MSW, LCSW or Ariana Reisch, LMSW We would be happy to answer any additional questions and to ensure we are the right fit for your needs!
Family Based Therapy FBT, mother and child
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