Handbook of Psychological Services for Children and Adolescents

By Jan N. Hughes; Annette M. La Greca et al. | Go to book overview

19
Eating Disorders in Children
and Adolescents
DAVID M. GARNER
JULIE J. DESAI

The increased recognition of eating disorders among adolescent and young adult women, as well as of the dangerous physical and psychological consequences of eating disorders, has resulted in a rapid increase in theoretical formulations and research involving pathogenesis and treatment. This research has led to a divergence in etiological viewpoints, as well as a convergence of opinion, with regard to the usefulness of practical intervention strategies. Although current knowledge has yet to lend support to any one theoretical viewpoint, one of the most enduring theoretical orientations for understanding eating disorders has been a risk factor model that accounts for the development and maintenance of symptoms through the interaction of cultural, biological, and psychological predisposing factors (Garner & Garfinkel, 1980). According to the risk factor model, these features are manifested differently within the context of a heterogeneous patient population (Garfinkel & Garner, 1982). This heterogeneity must be appreciated to fully understand and to competently treat this group of patients.

The aim of this chapter is to first provide background regarding diagnostic and prevalence of eating disorders and then to discuss the risk factor model, including major cultural, biological, and psychological factors that have been hypothesized to predispose individuals to eating disorders. This will be followed by an overview of the major perpetuating factors that need to be understood in treating eating disorders. Finally, empirically supported treatments, including family therapy and cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and pharmacological therapies will be discussed, along with a rationale for integrating and sequencing interventions.

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