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Improve Body Image to Improve Eating Disorders

26 Jan

Hello again.

2220b2As I was digging into my weekly cache of the 214 new mind-body research abstracts that had dropped into my NIH cubby, I saw two, new European studies on eating disorders that grabbed my attention, especially because I've been spending a good part of the last two weeks on editing, mixing, reviewing and packaging Traci Stein's new guided imagery and hypnosis audio for Healthy Weight & Body Image.

Now, just to be clear, Traci's new audio is not just for people with eating disorders, although it certainly is going to be wonderful for that – it's also designed for anyone who wants to make mild to moderate tweaks to their weight (up or down) or to their attitudes toward their bodies (up), so there's a lot of range and scale to who this will help.

But I digress. Back to the studies. One pilot study out of Germany (Legenbauer T1, Schütt-Strömel S, Hiller W, Vocks S. Predictors of improved eating behaviour following body image therapy: a pilot study. European Eating Disorders Review. 2011 Mar-Apr;19 (2):pp.129-37) showed that changes in body image had a direct relationship to the improvement (or eradication) of an eating disorder symptoms (anorexia or bulimia). Now, that's no big surprise to a therapist, but still, always good to see validated by research – especially because Traci's program addresses body image and attitude toward the body so thoroughly and well.

Another study out of Switzerland (Carrard I1, Fernandez-Aranda F, Lam T, Nevonen L, Liwowsky I, Volkart AC, Rouget P, Golay A, Van der Linden M, Norring C. Evaluation of a guided internet self-treatment programme for bulimia nervosa in several European countries. European Eating Disorders Review. 2011 Mar-Apr;19 (2):138-49.) showed that a self-administered program for people with bulimia, delivered over the internet, yielded some really strong results – particularly impressive because bulimia is generally seen as a hard-to-treat condition.

The fact that a self-administered therapy can produce such strong outcomes, gives me encouragement that Traci's skillfully written and narrated audio tracks – also self-administered – can really make a difference, too – either as a supplement to standard therapy or as a stand-alone intervention. In fact, I'd make a bet on it. But I'd rather see a randomized, controlled study, of course, and really make the case.

In any case, I'm pleased to see the flood of mind-body research pouring into the databases these days, showing me what I already think I know. I used to have to scour the internet for one or two articles. Nowadays, I'm truly hard pressed to keep up with it all.

We'll be posting these two abstracts next week.

And keep an eye out for the release of Traci's terrific new title, which she's calling Healthy Weight & Body Image. It won't be much longer – the download should be any day now, and the packaged CD just a couple to three weeks after that.

Take care and be well.

All best,

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.