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A treatment developed in the Department of Psychiatry is recommended for all forms of eating disorder seen in adults.

The treatment, “enhanced CBT” or CBT-E  has been developed in the Department by Prof Christopher Fairburn’s group with long-term support from Wellcome. 

It is the first time a single treatment has been recommended for an entire class of psychiatric disorders.

This table shows how the latest NICE guidelines that were published 23 May 2017, recommend CBT-E across the eating disorder diagnoses.



Bulimia Nervosa

Binge Eating Disorder

Anorexia Nervosa




CBT-E or “Mantra” or





If ineffective, CBT-E



If ineffective, CBT-E

In addition, for simpler cases of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder the NICE recommend trying “guided self-help” as a first step.  This approach was also developed by Professor Fairburn and his colleagues.

This new “transdiagnostic” treatment is the product of consistent, long-term funding from Wellcome. - Professor Christopher Fairburn

CBT-E specifies a way for therapists to build a treatment that is personalised to match the precise eating problem of each patient, focusing on key areas which operate differently in different people.

Areas that are targeted include: body image, rigid dieting and perfectionism. A single therapist then delivers the entire personalised treatment.

In developing this treatment, Prof Fairburn coined the term ‘transdiagnostic’ - looking at the underlying mechanisms that keep ED going in any particular person.

Scaling up reach has always been key to the aims of Prof Fairburn and his team. They have developed a successful system for training large numbers of therapists in CBT-E remotely. There is a massive training website, culminating in an exam which professional therapists can undertake and get feedback on. To date 1,800 have been trained using this website.

‘Guided Self Help’ is an approach designed for use in non-specialist settings such as primary care.  It involves the patient following a cognitive behavioural self-help programme, such as that in the book ‘Overcoming Binge Eating’, with upport and encouragement from a non-specialist healthcare worker.

Looking to the future, Prof Fairburn and his group are developing a digital form of CBT-E which will be accessed remotely and anonymously. The treatment, under development, will be known as CBTe.Initial trials of CBTe are ongoing.

Please download the NICE Guidelines on Eating Disorders May 2017 here.


Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.