Emotion-focused family therapy is a transdiagnostic approach that affords parents and caregivers a significant role in their loved one's recovery from an eating disorder. A 2-day intervention was developed on the basis of emotion-focused family therapy principles and delivered to 33 parents of adolescent and adult children. Data were collected pre- and post-intervention. Through education and skills practice, parents were taught strategies with respect to meal support and symptom interruption as well as emotion coaching. Parents were also supported to identify and work through their own emotional blocks that could interfere with their supportive efforts. Analyses revealed a significant increase in parental self-efficacy, a positive shift in parents' attitudes regarding their role as emotion coach and a reduction in the fears associated with their involvement in treatment, including a decrease in self-blame. Overall, this broad-based, low-cost intervention shows promise, and future research is warranted. Key Practitioner Message: A low-cost, intensive emotion-focused family therapy intervention shows promise for parents of individuals with an eating disorder, regardless of their loved one's age, symptom profile or involvement in treatment. Working with parents' emotions and emotional reactions to their child's struggles has the potential to improve supportive efforts. An emotion-focused family therapy intervention for parents yields high satisfaction rates, improves parental self-efficacy and reduces fears regarding their involvement, including self-blame.

, ,
Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Department of Psychology

Lafrance Robinson, A. (Adèle), Dolhanty, J. (Joanne), Stillar, A. (Amanda), Henderson, K, & Mayman, S. (Shari). (2016). Emotion-Focused Family Therapy for Eating Disorders Across the Lifespan: A Pilot Study of a 2-Day Transdiagnostic Intervention for Parents. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 23(1), 14–23. doi:10.1002/cpp.1933