Reconnecting for Recovery: A Relational/Motivational Multifamily Therapy Group for Young Adults with Anorexia Nervosa

Dates: None/2015 - 11/30/2018

Hilda Davis Foundation

Principal Investigator: Mary Tantillo, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAED, CGP

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a disorder that occurs predominantly in women, primarily (almost 40%) between the ages of 18-34. It has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses; a rate higher by 12 times than that from ALL other causes of death for females age 15-24 years. If not identified and remediated early, AN can become persistent, severe, and disabling. Yet, despite the high mortality, morbidity, and chronicity associated with AN. there is little to no empirical support for its definitive treatment in young adults. Individual ccognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) targeting food restriction and dysfunctional cognitions regarding weight and shape has often been used as the treatment of choice for AN; however, it has not produced sustained recovery. Current randomized controlled trials are examining the efficacy of two other primarily individual treatments, Specialist Supportive Clinical Management (SSCM) (targeting abnormal nutritional status and dietary patterns) and Maudsley Model of Treatment for Adults with AN (MANTRA) (targeting thinking style, socio-emotional impairments, proAN beliefs, and interpersonal responses from loved ones). Some preliminary research is also being conducted to examine the efficacy of an adaptation of single family-based treatment with adolescents for young adults. We propose to pilot and evaluate for broader dissemination an innovative and potentially highly impactful Multifamily Therapy Group (MFTG) (“Reconnecting for Recovery”) intervention for young adults with AN.  MFTG maximizes the resources, strengths, and adaptive coping strategies of a number of patients and their family members (including "family of choice members" as defined by the patients) as they work with the therapist to eliminate AN symptoms and promote ongoing recovery.