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To deliver or not to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders: Replication and extension of our understanding of why therapists fail to do what they should do

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Objective: This study investigated the extent to which therapists fail to apply empirically supported treatments in a sample of clinicians in The Netherlands, delivering cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders (CBT-ED). It aimed to replicate previous findings, and to extend them by examining other potential intra-individual factors associated with the level of (non-)use of core CBT-ED techniques.

Method: Participants were 139 clinicians (127 women; mean age 41.4 years, range = 24-64) who completed an online survey about the level of use of specific techniques, their beliefs (e.g., about the importance of the alliance and use of pretreatment motivational techniques), anxiety (Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale), and personality (Ten Item Personality Inventory).

Results: Despite some differences with Waller's (2012) findings, the present results continue to indicate that therapists are not reliably delivering the CBT-ED techniques that would be expected to provide the best treatment to their patients. This 'non-delivery' appears to be related to clinician anxiety, temporal factors, and clinicians' beliefs about the power of the therapeutic alliance in driving therapy outcomes.

Discussion: Improving treatment delivery will involve working with clinicians' levels of anxiety, clarifying the lack of benefit of pre-therapy motivational enhancement work, and reminding clinicians that the therapeutic alliance is enhanced by behavioral change in CBT-ED, rather than the other way around.

    Research areas

  • 'Non-delivery', ANOREXIA-NERVOSA, BULIMIA-NERVOSA, CBT-E, CLINICAL-PRACTICE, Clinician anxiety, Cognitive behavior therapy, Eating disorders, Evidence-based practice, INDIVIDUALS, METAANALYSIS, PSYCHOTHERAPY, RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL, SHORT VERSION, Therapeutic alliance, Therapist drift, UNCERTAINTY SCALE
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018