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Getting better bite by bite: Self-help therapy for people with bulimia boosted


A new version of Overcoming Bulimia, the self-help CD-ROM which uses the proven cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach to the treatment of bulimia has been launched by Media Innovations Ltd, to coincide with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week which takes place on 6-12 February 2005.

The new version of the CD-ROM is based on feedback from clinicians who regularly use the package to treat patients and from patients themselves. The CD-ROM has been designed to address the problems people struggle with, and uses a range of interactive multimedia interventions to help people overcome the core problems of bingeing and vomiting experienced in bulimia..

CBT and evidence-based self-help therapies have been identified as two key priority treatments for bulimia sufferers by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in its 2004 report Core Interventions in the treatment and management of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and related eating disorders.

Overcoming Bulimia has been authored by respected CBT practitioner, Dr Chris Williams who as a Past-President of British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies ( has many years’ experience of treating patients suffering from conditions such as bulimia, anxiety and depression. Dr Williams’ experience also includes time working at the Yorkshire Eating Disorders Service at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

“CBT offers patients the opportunity to learn a set of skills which will help them in the long-term by aiding their understanding of why they feel a certain way, enabling them to identify areas for change, and providing them with the skills to change,” says Dr Williams. “The initial package was put together on a shoe-string, but has proven so successful that we wanted to make it more interactive to enhance the experience for end users.”

The programme has been tested and updated in collaboration with Dr Ulrike Schmidt, the internationally recognised expert on eating disorders from the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

The Overcoming Bulimia CD-ROM CBT package is based on a proven model of intervention that has been clinically evaluated, making it a powerful self-help resource. Conventional methods of delivering CBT through one-to-one and group sessions with therapists have made it a relatively expensive form of treatment. This can also limit patient access to an already stretched area of the NHS. With Overcoming Bulimia, patients can use the CD-ROM in a clinical setting or in the privacy of their own homes. Clinicians need spend time with sufferers only before and immediately after three sessions with the programme, thus freeing up valuable time.

The Eating Disorders Association (EDA = currently has volunteers in its regional centres using the Overcoming Bulimia packages.

Mark Reilly, Head of Regional Support at the Eating Disorders Association says: “The NICE guidelines suggest that CBT is the best researched way of treating bulimia, and there are enormous benefits to this form of treatment being available via a self-help tool. We speak to a lot of individuals who benefit from self help as a route to recovery. Overcoming Bulimia enables individuals to work at their own pace, in the privacy of their own home.

Research with bulimia sufferers that have used the Calipso package has shown that they often feel more comfortable using a computer than speaking directly with a therapist.

One patient says: “It’s easier to speak openly to a computer then it is to somebody else. For example by speaking more openly to the computer I am able to speak more openly to [a therapist] now then I could have done a few weeks ago…I feel a lot less nervous about seeing a therapist now”

Stephen Taylor-Parker | alfa
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