Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Treat Binge Eating Disorder

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Eating disorders, including binge eating disorder, are serious mental health problems that require professional treatment to prevent devastating physical and psychological consequences. There are many therapies out there that can help with eating disorders, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) happens to be one of the most effective therapies for treating binge eating disorder.

What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and How Can It Help Treat Binge Eating Disorder?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help with many mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other illnesses. This therapy can significantly affect how well individuals function and how happy they feel. It is also just as effective, if not more so, than other therapies and medications used to treat binge eating disorder.

Individuals with binge eating disorder struggle with body image and often resort to food restriction, which results in binging. CBT is particularly beneficial for binge eating disorder because it helps individuals identify harmful thought patterns and negative behaviors that contribute to the restricting and binging cycle and helps change those patterns and behaviors. It can also provide individuals with long-term results, which means long-term recovery (1).

Techniques Used in CBT for Binge Eating Disorder

CBT is a structured and goal-oriented therapy that aims to disrupt negative thought cycles. It focuses on your current problems rather than past issues and typically uses the following steps (2):

  • Identify the problem or negative behavior
  • Analyze your thoughts about the behavior
  • Identify the negative thoughts
  • Restructure negative and unrealistic thoughts

What to Expect During a CBT Session

At your first session, your therapist will determine if CBT is right for you. They will gather information about you, your life, your background, and your relationships. This is also the time for you to feel out the session and see if the therapist is right for you. Together, you and your therapist will decide on how to proceed.

In future sessions, you will break down your problems and analyze your thoughts and feelings with the help of your therapist. They may ask you to keep a journal or diary to help you identify issues and your feelings about them. Your therapist will help you find strategies to change your negative thought patterns and apply those changes to your life. Therapy may also include homework activities to reinforce what you learn in your sessions (3).

Duration of CBT Treatment

The length of treatment varies from one individual to another. Duration depends on factors such as the severity of your symptoms, whether or not there are co-occurring conditions, and your individual progress. However, CBT is considered a short-term treatment with a limited number of sessions. The number of sessions generally ranges from 5 to 20. You will work with your therapist to determine how many sessions will be effective for you (2).

Potential Risks Associated With CBT for Binge Eating Disorder

There is minimal risk involved in participating in CBT, but some sessions in which you face fears and stir up deep emotions may make you uncomfortable. Remember, in many cases, when things become challenging, it means you’re doing something right.

If you are looking for binge eating disorder help, make sure you find a professional. Any type of formal therapy or treatment should be done under the guidance of a licensed therapist or healthcare professional.

The skilled professionals trained in eating disorders at Magnolia Creek can help you find the right therapies and treatments for binge eating disorder. Take the first step toward recovery by reaching out to our team at 205-235-6989 to find out which treatment options are right for you.




  1. Lacovino, J.M., Gredysa, D.M., Altman, M., & Wilfley, D.E. (2012). Psychological treatments for binge eating disorder. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(4), 432-46.
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2019, March 16). Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  3. National Health Service. (2022, November 10). How it works – Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


Author bio:

Kate Delaney Chen, BSN, RN-BC is a healthcare writer and registered nurse with over 17 years of bedside experience. She specializes in Psychiatric Nursing and Nephrology and currently works at a nationally recognized Inpatient Eating Disorders Program.

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