How do adolescents with bulimia nervosa rate the acceptability and therapeutic relationship in family-based treatment?




To describe therapeutic alliance and treatment acceptability ratings of adolescents with bulimia nervosa (BN) participating in family-based treatment (FBT-BN) and to explore how participant characteristics relate to these constructs.


Adolescents with BN (n = 80) in a randomized controlled trial comparing FBT-BN and individual supportive psychotherapy (SPT), completed the Eating Disorder Examination, Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale, and Beck Depression Inventory prior to treatment. The Helping Relationship Questionnaire, patient expectancy for treatment, treatment suitability, and self-reported estimates of improvement ratings were obtained at multiple points throughout treatment.


Therapeutic alliance and treatment acceptability ratings were positive in both treatments and generally did not differ. Within FBT-BN, more severe eating disorder symptomatology pretreatment was related to lower alliance ratings mid-treatment (p < .05). However, reductions in binge and purge behaviors over the course of treatment were not related to alliance or acceptability for participants in FBT-BN (all p's > .10).


Contrary to expectations of FBT-BN, adolescents receiving both treatments develop a strong alliance with the therapist. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008