Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Eating disorders and accompanying mental illnesses are complex challenges that require comprehensive solutions. For this reason, Magnolia Creek uses the following evidence based eating disorder therapy methods to help our clients achieve recovery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a solution-focused, evidence-based treatment approach that emphasizes changing behavior by applying specific skills. Developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s, CBT has been researched extensively and is the most widely used therapy for treating mood disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia, as well as eating disorders. By focusing on the ways our thinking influences our emotions and our coinciding behaviors, CBT identifies, addresses, and teaches us ways to respond to the core beliefs that contribute to the ways we see ourselves, other people, and the world.

A woman participates in the eating disorder therapy Alabama offers

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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

According to the Linehan Institute, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT has been successfully integrated into the recovery process for eating disorders as well. Research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders. Dialectical behavioral therapy treats conditions such as substance use disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). DBT helps clients develop the skills needed to regulate distress and find a balance between thoughts and emotions.

DBT focuses on developing skills, such as engaging mindfulness, becoming more effective in interpersonal relationships, improving emotion regulation, and increasing distress tolerance. This method can help manage impulsivity, suicidal behaviors/ideations, feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, feelings of abandonment, unstable interpersonal relationships, and engagement in dangerous or life-threatening behaviors. With the combination of commitment, motivation, and practice, Dialectical Behavior Therapy can assist people in eventually becoming more regulated and self-sufficient.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Clinicians use Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) to treat anxiety disorders. It works by exposing the individual to the feared object or circumstance in the absence of danger to desensitize fear and distress while reinforcing safety. ERP helps the brain re-conceptualize the threat by gradually increasing the exposure to the fear at mild to moderate levels while reinforcing safety through affirmation and experience.

For those suffering from an eating disorder, particularly bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa, ERP can aid in helping individuals overcome fears of consuming certain foods and can also assist with anxiety-provoking experiences like being weighed, grocery shopping, or looking at oneself in the mirror.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is a therapy technique that encourages collaboration between client and therapist to identify internal motivating factors to enact change. Clinicians commonly use this method in the treatment of health disorders, as well as eating disorders.

Internal Family Systems

The theory behind Internal Family Systems is we each have different internal components filling the needs we have for love, attachment, belonging, achievement, survival, etc. With the support of a trained therapist, we can identify the roots of conflict and ways to navigate the conflict in ourselves and others by developing a deeper understanding of these components, their experiences, and their needs. Identifying and meeting the needs of these components dissolves our tendencies of meeting needs in other ways and equips us to identify and navigate conflict more effectively.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy functions from the belief that our experiences contribute to our narrative or story if you will. The story that we develop about ourselves is based primarily on our interpretation of what we have experienced in life. Narrative therapy utilizes the power of people’s stories to discover life purpose. Because narrative therapy sees people separate from their problems, it works towards transforming the effects of the problematic experience instead of working towards changing the person. Through narrative therapy, we empower individuals to re-define their stories.

Experiential Therapy

Experiential Therapy is a category of therapy that includes multiple approaches such as role-playing, group sculpting, use of props, guided imagery, art therapy, etc. Instead of traditional talk therapy, experiential therapy encourages individuals to address and hidden and sometimes subconscious issues through experiential activities and interactions.


Mindfulness training involves developing awareness of what you are experiencing in the moment, including thoughts, feelings, and the environment around you. It is also the practice of accepting thoughts and emotions, and not passing judgment on the present. Mindfulness-based therapy can be helpful in learning how to manage external stressors that may trigger desires to find a quick relief for distress through binge eating, restriction, purging, excessive exercise, self-harm, etc. Therapeutic techniques can help an individual learn to be more observant instead of reactive in the present moment and can aid people in developing skills to allow emotions to and thoughts the space to process.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy believes that our experiences from the past influence the way we see and interpret the world. By offering a safe space and a healthy therapeutic relationship to identify and process through events, relationships, and patterns throughout life, we can gain insight on present-day problems, beliefs, and thoughts. Once we gain insight, we can develop coping mechanisms to implement to manage distress and engage in different behaviors moving forward to inhibit the continuation of distress-inducing experiences.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Developed by Steven C. Hayes, Kelly Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was founded on the idea that most psychological distress is tied to “experiential avoidance.” This is an attempt or desire to suppress unwanted internal experiences, such as emotions, thoughts, or bodily sensations. ACT focuses on helping an individual learn to observe, recognize, and accept a realistic perception of self while learning to manage thoughts that may exacerbate anxiety or problematic behaviors.

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