Family Based Treatment (FBT)

An Evidence-Based Approach to Treatment

Anorexia typically has been treated in inpatient and residential treatment facilities that require patients to live away from their families. This separation is often disruptive and distressing to patients and their families. Treatment in residential and inpatient facilities is usually successful in restoring the patient’s weight. Unfortunately, the rate of relapse once they leave and return home is high. This often leads to multiple treatment episodes. 

Researchers have found that for some patients suffering from Anorexia family participation in treatment contributes to better outcomes (1), (2), (3). Thus, the treatment for anorexia and other eating disorders have become more inclusive of families.  

Family Based Treatment for Anorexia

Family Based Treatment (AKA  Maudsley Approach) is a specific type of treatment for adolescents struggling with Anorexia. This approach utilizes the parents and family as active participants in the restoration of the patient’s weight, physical health and normalization of eating (1). This approach aims at preventing hospitalization, assisting parents in restoring their child’s weight, and helping him or her return to normal adolescent development free of an eating disorder.

This treatment approach has been found to be very effective for those patients who have had anorexia for less than 3 years. At the end of treatment approximately two thirds of adolescent patients are restored to a healthy weight, and, impressively, five years later 75 - 90% remain fully weight recovered (2). Research has also shown that most patients participating in a Family Based Treatment require on average no more than 20 treatment sessions over the course of 6 to 12 months (3). This allows most patients to receive treatment while living at home engaging in many of their normal day-to-day activities. For more information please visit

Family Based Treatment at Sierra Treatment Center

Sierra Treatment Center offers Family Based Treatment for adolescents who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa who are medically stable to the extent they do not need daily medical intervention. The program consists of weekly family therapy or supervised family meals. Patients are treated by a licensed clinician specifically certified in Family Based Treatment. Patients are medically monitored by their Primary Care Physician throughout the program. Families meet with the treatment team monthly to review their loved one’s progress and to address any ongoing concerns. 


(1) Loeb, K., Le Grange, D, 2009. Family based treatment for adolescent eating disorders: Current status, new applications and future directions. International Journal of Adolescent Health, 2, 243-254.

(2) Eisler, I., Dare, C., Russell, G. F. M., Szmukler, G. I., Le Grange, D., and E. Dodge. 1997. Family and individual therapy in anorexia nervosa: A five-year follow-up. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 1025-1030.

(3) Le Grange, D., Binford, R., and K.L. Loeb. 2005. Manualized family-based treatment for anorexia nervosa: A case series. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 41-46.; Lock, J., Agras, W.S., Bryson, S., and H. Kraemer. 2005. A comparison of short- and long-term family therapy for adolescent anorexia nervosa. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 632-639.

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