Cognitive Remediation Therapy for Eating Disorders

Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) is a psychological therapy that uses a range of interactive games and puzzles to improve flexibility in our thinking. CRT aims to encourage patients to recognise their individual thinking styles and helps them practise alternative ways of problem solving, which may be more beneficial to their personal journey. This is usually carried out through the decision to consciously learn new strategies and thinking styles, considering the pros and cons of each. In each session, patients are also motivated to implement these new skills in everyday life.

CRT was originally used for neurorehabilitation for those with brain injuries and strokes, however, it has also been carefully applied to eating disorders. Previously, it has been used predominantly in adults with eating disorders, with evidence showing that it has been successful in reducing inflexibility in thinking styles. CRT tends to focus on the maintaining factors of an eating disorder, rather than the originating elements. Facilitators take it in turns to lead and collaboratively participate in activities that model flexible thinking and curiosity in an engaging manner. Research has found that individuals with Anorexia Nervosa can have difficulties around detail-focused thinking or routines and perfectionist tendencies. CRT helps promote cognitive flexibility including switching attention and global processing skills. For example, switching to eat a range of foods flexibly and considering overall health benefits associated with small changes in weight gain.  Flexible thinking can include the ability to multitask, looking at both the bigger picture and finer details of situations and the ability to switch between tasks.

Current research suggests that CRT is an engaging therapeutic technique that might be useful as an additional treatment of Anorexia Nervosa, as shown in adults. Evidence has shown that there are long term benefits of CRT and that it is a viable treatment in group format and individually, giving the Service User a choice of ways for it to be used most appropriately for their needs. This therapy is currently being applied to a younger population to explore whether it elicits similar beneficial outcomes. Elysium Healthcare implements this proposal and is currently closely working with Kings College London to use CRT with young people with Anorexia Nervosa. Overall, CRT is an emerging method of therapy using various interactive techniques to improve flexible thinking styles in attempts to provide beneficial alternatives to problem solving and activities in everyday life.

Rhodes Wood Hospital provides specialist inpatient care and treatment for children and young people aged 8 -18 years old with an eating disorder.

Our expert multi-disciplinary team provide person-centred care that is tailored to meet the physical and medical/mental health needs of each individual, to support them through their journey with us and to continue their treatment in the community.