The development and application of compassion-focused therapy for eating disorders (CFT-E)




This article outlines specific developments in compassion-focused therapy (CFT) for the treatment of patients with an eating disorder.


The article provides a narrative review based on the existing literature and current practices of CFT for eating disorders (CFT-E).


The role of shame, self-criticism, self-directed hostility, and difficulties in generating and experiencing affiliative emotion in patients with an eating disorder is highlighted. The article describes how CFT-E uniquely addresses these issues and discusses the current evidence base for CFT-E. It also provides an outline of recent and potential future developments in CFT-E.


CFT-E offers a promising treatment for adult outpatients who present to specialist eating disorder services with restricting and binge/purging eating disorders. Recent developments include treatment protocols for patients who are low weight and have an eating disorder and for those presenting with obesity.

Practitioner points

  • CFT-E is a group-based treatment for adult outpatients with restricting or binge/purging eating disorders attending specialist services.
  • CFT-E has a specific protocol and interventions to address the biological, psychological, and social challenges of recovery from an eating disorder.
  • CFT-E specifically addresses the high levels of shame and self-criticism commonly experienced by patients with an eating disorder.