Family Based Therapy

The Maudsley Approach

The Maudsley Family Based Therapy approach can mostly be construed as an intensive outpatient treatment where parents play an active and positive role in order to: Help restore their child’s weight to normal levels expected given their adolescent’s age and height; hand the control over eating back to the adolescent, and; encourage normal adolescent development through an in-depth discussion of these crucial developmental issues as they pertain to their child.

The Maudsley Approach opposes the notion that families are pathological or should be blamed for the development of Anorexia Nervosa. On the contrary, the Maudsley Approach considers the parents as a resource and essential in successful treatment for Anorexia Nervosa.

The Maudsley Approach proceeds through three clearly defined phases, and is usually conducted within 15-20 treatment sessions over a period of about 12 months. In Phase I, also referred to as the weight restoration phase, the therapist focuses on the dangers of severe malnutrition associated with Anorexia Nervosa, assessing the family’s typical interaction pattern and eating habits, and assisting parents in re-feeding their child.  Phase two of treatment focuses on encouraging the parents to help their child to take more control over eating once again.  In phase three, treatment focus starts to shift to the impact Anorexia Nervosa has had on the individual establishing a healthy adolescent identity.

Few controlled clinical trials have been conducted to explore outcomes of outpatient treatments for adolescents with anorexia.  While research has not been extensive, recently published reports of the treatment for adolescent anorexia have been more encouraging.  These studies have all demonstrated the efficacy of Family Based Therapy – that is, approximately two-thirds of adolescent Anorexia Nervosa patients are recovered at the end of Family Based Therapy while 75 – 90% are fully weight recovered at five-year follow-up.  Researchers have shown that most young patients with Anorexia Nervosa require on average no more than 20 treatment sessions over the course of 6-12 months, and that about 80% of patients are weight restored with a start or resumption of menses at the conclusion of treatment.

(Information about Maudsley adapted from

Ben has received training in the Maudsley method of Family Based Therapy from The Training Institute of Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders.

Links to for more information about Maudsley