Binge-eating disorder

Guided self-help

Children, young people and adults who have binge-eating disorder should be offered guided self-help. This means working through a book about binge eating, and having short sessions with a practitioner (such as a therapist) to check how you are doing. People generally have between 4 and 9 sessions that last about 20 minutes each. However, you and your practitioner should agree how many sessions to have and how long they will last, depending on what works for you.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Guided self-help may not be right for everyone, and if you don't feel it has helped after 4 weeks, you may be offered group sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This should take place in 16 weekly sessions over 4 months, each one lasting about 90 minutes. It should cover:

  • showing you how to plan your food intake every day

  • working out the triggers that make you binge

  • helping you to change negative beliefs about your body

  • helping you stick to your new eating habits (this is called relapse prevention).

You may be offered individual CBT rather than group CBT. The treatments are similar but individual CBT involves having one-to-one sessions with your practitioner rather than group sessions.

Reaching a healthy weight

Your body weight is unlikely to change during your therapy because it is not designed to help you gain or lose weight. If you need to reach a healthy weight, this should be a longer-term part of your recovery. Your practitioner can give you more advice about this.

NICE has written separate advice about treatments for obesity.