Body Awareness Therapy Benefits in Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Lady working with therapist with Body Awareness Therapy

We are expanding our understanding of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) more than ever before, gaining a deeper understanding of the psychology, experiences, and symptoms of those struggling. Even so, a recent study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders noted that this information doesn’t seem to be applied to current treatment methodologies and hypothesizes that this is why long-term recovery rates do not reflect our expanded knowledge and insight.

The study aptly pointed out that, “patients with Binge Eating Disorder have more interaction with the healthcare system than the general population, but research indicates that these patients are often not diagnosed nor offered adequate specific treatment [1].”

Further, when their diagnosis is identified, and they are referred to treatment, many are referred to enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-e) despite 30% of individuals with BED not achieving recovery over time with this treatment method [1]. While individual eating disorder diagnoses have similar psychology and symptomatology, they are not all created equally, therefore, the treatment most effective for one may not yield the same results as another.

This begs the question of why individuals with BED are not being referred to treatment that is more helpful for their specific disorder.

Body-Image and BED

Body-image disturbance can be defined as “the evaluation and perception of one’s own body” and has long been linked to the development and maintenance of eating disorders, BED included [1].

Despite the impact that body-image has on self-view, self-esteem, and body image, all of which are associated with eating disorders, addressing it is “still not systematized in therapy or in research [1].”

Basic Body Awareness Therapy

Taking this study into consideration, it mentioned examined how including Basic Body Awareness Therapy (BBAT) impacted treatment effectiveness for 2 individuals [1]. BBAT is a type of physiotherapy that strives to bridge physical, mental, and relational health.

Woman with anxietyThis method of treatment was developed based on the consideration that “how we perceive our body is our mode of access to the world, and hence the primary mode for knowing the world [1].”

The body and our understanding of the world simultaneously adapt and impact one another. When our body changes, so does how we relate to ourselves and the world and vice-versa. The two individuals in this study engaged in typical CBT-e treatment with additional BBAT sessions with a physiologist.

BBAT sessions “involve(d) the physiotherapist enhancing contact with ‘self’ by focusing on basic movement principles when performing simple everyday movements (lying, sitting, standing, walking, and relational movements), use of the voice, and a special kind of massage [1].”

The study determined that the two individuals examined “started out feeling fragmented, trying to avoid perceived unpleasant aspects about their body weight and shape, difficult emotions, own history, and pain, all rooted in the body, fighting themselves from within. Gradually, they became able to accept these problems as part of who they had become and started a process of feeling more integrated with their own bodies [1].”

Details of the study led researchers to conclude that BBAT and CBT-e create a “synergistic combination of two treatment approaches” and that, when combined, they effectively help individuals diagnosed with BED to address the relationship they have with their own bodies in therapy which may lead to better long-term recovery results [1].


[1] Albertsen, M. N., Natvik, E., Raheim, M. (2019). Patient’s experiences from basic body awareness therapy in the treatment of binge eating disorder – movement toward health: a phenomenological study. Journal of Eating Disorders, 7:36.

About the Author:

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published December 26, 2019, on
Reviewed & Approved on December 26, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.