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Keywords:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • body image;
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy

Abstract

Objective

This pilot study examined the role of mirror confrontation in the desensitization process of a body image treatment within an inpatient program for anorexia nervosa.

Method

A within-subjects design was used. It compared the impact of two modes of group body image treatment on body dissatisfaction, anxiety, and avoidance behaviors. Both treatments followed a set format of exposure exercises and homework, but the modified treatment also included mirror confrontation as an exposure exercise.

Results

Standard treatment did not produce any significant changes. Modified treatment produced a significant and sustained improvement in body dissatisfaction and a significant reduction in body anxiety and avoidance behaviors.

Discussion

Mirror confrontation is a more effective form of exposure because of the strong emotional response it elicits. Patients’ pronounced emotional response to this exercise allowed easier identification of the affective and behavioral components of body dissatisfaction and more cogent links into a developmental body image timeline. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 31: 185–190, 2002; DOI. 10.1002/eat.10027