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  • Writer's picturepete appleton

Book Review. A Cognitive Interpersonal Workbook for Treating Anorexia Nervosa

Book Review

A Cognitive Interpersonal Therapy Workbook for Treating Anorexia Nervosa: The Maudsley Model. By Ulrike Schmidt, Helen Startup, Janet Treasure


The process of recovering from Anorexia Nervosa (AN) can be complex and challenging – for clients, relatives and therapists. AN is perpetuated by physical, psychological and social factors that need disentangling and a cohesive approach. Schmidt et al utilise what they call the MANTRA approach – the Maudsley Model Of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults. Using the image of a flower with petals representing aspects of the factors that fuel AN they provide a working manual to understand and address how meaningful change can be provided – moving towards an alternative image of the flower of recovery. Each petal is examined in comprehensible chapters including

Getting Started – including examining readiness and motivation to make changes as well as considering how to take those important first steps.

Developing Support Systems. How to elicit the right support.

Nutrition. Described simply and non-judgmentally.

Why, what and how? Considering how the AN has developed

Developing Treatment Goals. A step by step approach to considering what changes to be made and how to plan effectively.

The Social and Emotional Mind. One of the most challenging aspects of recovering from AN is how to manage relationships and emotions. Drawing on aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy this chapter provides an understanding of the nature of emotions, how AN impacts on the ability to read the emotions of oneself and others, and strategies for developing self regulation and emotional management skills.

Exploring Thinking Styles. Overlooked in many books on AN, this chapter provides a useful understanding of how the way that we think can work for us or against us. Exercises are provided to work to shift perspectives between that of focusing on detail and that of being able to stand back and see the bigger picture.

Identity. Key to many people is challenge of knowing who you are or could be should you recover from AN.

In addition the book provides a very useful chapter for relatives and supporters. And a very helpful chapter on the effective use of therapeutic writing!

The book is an invaluable aid to sufferers of AN, their families and friends and any professional working to support them. Importantly, it is a workbook and to get the best from it the reader will need to put the work in. A structure is provided for the person with AN to follow – providing a wealth of exercises to increase understanding and personal efficacy on the journey of recovery.

Having worked for many years with people with eating disorders, I learned a great deal and with repeated readings will no doubt learn a lot more. Highly recommended.

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