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I’m in therapy for anorexia. Is it best to find and treat the cause of the eating disorder or to stop the behaviours first?


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The latter. Eating disorders cause major damage to the body. They have the highest rate of mortality of all mental disorders. The sooner you stop damaging your body, the sooner it can begin to heal.

You might never learn what drives your behavior, but you can still be successful in treatment. Many modern-day treatments tend to be focused on the “here and now.” You may come to learn what motivates your behavior, with counseling, but it is not a prerequisite for success in treatment.

If you were to study the etiology of eating disorders, you would see that a definitive cause has not been determined. Thus, a more realistic approach to treatment is replacing dangerous and maladaptive behaviors with those that do not involve self-harm. You can do that with counseling. It sounds like you are on the right track. Good luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle


Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Anorexia. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Apr 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 Apr 2018
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