The Maudsley Method: Anorexia Nervosa Treatment and the Role of the Family

Anorexia Nervosa TreatmentThe Maudsley Method is a family based treatment approach for anorexia nervosa, originally developed by Christopher Dare and his team in 1985 at London’s Maudsley Hospital. It is essentially a rigorous outpatient treatment approach where parents of the affected child play a positive and crucial role during treatment, under the supervision of experienced healthcare professionals.

How Does the Maudsley Method Work?

Similar to other family based treatments for anorexia, with the Maudsley method, the parents control the child’s refeeding. As shared by, patients will go through three phases during treatment and will be supervised by a psychologist, psychiatrist, and other healthcare professionals. Treatment involves 15 to 20 sessions in the course of six months or more, depending on the severity of the disorder and the responsiveness of the patient.

The first phase is focused on restoring the patient’s ideal weight and it’s the responsibility of the parents to provide the child with the right types of food. The main objective is to offset the most hazardous and pressing health effects of anorexia nervosa such as dehydration, malnutrition, and the potentially deadly changes to the patient’s immune system and heart, sooner rather than later.

During the second phase, parents will start to slowly hand back control of eating to their child and once the child has adjusted to his or her regular and healthy eating habits, phase three can begin. The third phase will focus on teaching the child long-term strategies for disease management and addressing the crucial factors at the root of the child’s disorder.

Other Crucial Things to Know About the Maudsley Method

Although the Maudsley method was particularly developed for treating anorexia, it has since evolved and has been adapted for treating other eating disorders like binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa as well. However, studies indicate that it’s most effective when treating adolescents who’ve only struggled with an eating disorder for not more than three years. Most importantly, family based treatments for anorexia nervosa such as the Maudsley Method will only work if the whole family of the affected child is willing to do everything that they can to help the child.