The application of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of obesity

the Cognitive-behavioral therapyWith a proper physical training plan and proper diet, it turns out to be a very effective alternative for weight loss.

Therefore, and contrary to what many people think, the training of overweight and obese people requires not only intervention in the technical aspects related to training and nutrition, but also the achievement of goals and, above all , maintaining results, it will also depend on the good management of emotions, customs and habits, beliefs or motivation.

The multifactorial and chronic nature of obesity requires a multidisciplinary program

There are many causes that cause obesity. Its multifactorial and chronic nature, which in many cases is accompanied by comorbidity, forces us not to seek a quick and definitive solution to this problem. No one can doubt the importance of a physical training program and a proper diet, however. you have to pay attention to the psychological componentAs they can often be associated with eating disorders (ADD), anxiety disorders or mood disorders such as depression, among other conditions.

Therefore, this context so varied and complex it requires treatment in which it must prioritize a multidisciplinary program rather than separate solutions.

Obesity causes serious health problems

Many people looking for a solution to the problem of obesity are motivated by a makeover, Leaving aside the problems for your own health. Many times these people think that with proper nutrition and an exercise routine for weight loss, the problem will be solved, avoiding other areas of their life that are just as important.

When “losing weight” is approached more as a problem of image and that the treatment is directed in this direction, this biased vision makes it possible to avoid the modification of the habits of life and behavior, which are those which will bring in the long term. long term benefits. Scientific studies indicate that in these cases, only between 20% and 30% of obese patients manage to maintain the long-term results achieved. But even worse, in the first year, 30% of people who followed an obesity reduction plan regain the weight lost, and over 50% gain more weight in the first 3 years.

Group and individual psychotherapy, both useful for the treatment of obesity

The therapeutic approach can be applied both in a group and individually, although each approach should be performed in different situations.

the group therapy it will be useful for communicating experiences and for educating the patient, as providing knowledge about the importance of prioritizing health over aesthetics is helpful in sustaining long term results. Individualized therapy is necessary in cases where the patient needs to receive treatment for problems such as perception of body image, self-esteem, impulsivity, problem-solving style or disorders of the brain. mood.

Motivation and psychoeducation to prepare the patient for therapy

Scientific data support the theory that psychological treatment combined with diet and exercise programs works best. The problem arises because many still believe that exercise and nutrition programs will be enough to be successful. Therefore, there are two key elements in this process, and they are closely related: motivation and the psychoeducation.

The importance of motivation

the motivation this is a key aspect to being successful in any type of task, and it is a necessary prerequisite for attending group therapy for the treatment of obesity. As already mentioned, the main goal of many people remains physical success, as the doctors’ warning to lose weight (because it causes health problems) is often ineffective.

For many, participating in a psychotherapy group is not part of their initial steps. And while psychotherapy is effective in overcoming many problems, including obesity, often the person who needs help is unaware that they have the problem, avoids confronting reality, or has false beliefs about psychotherapy.

It is therefore important, and to keep patients motivated, that they enjoy the benefits not only physically, but globally. Having high expectations due to misinformation is a source of dissatisfaction that can lead to failure and disinterest in follow-up treatment, due to feelings of frustration and demotivation. Outraged, it negatively affects self-confidence, which is necessary in order to be successful in exceeding set goals.

One way to solve this problem may be to motivational interviewing, A managerial, client-centered style of interaction aimed at helping and inspiring people to compare the pros and cons of the bad habits that cause overweight and obesity, thereby causing positive change.

Psychoeducation is key to achieving long term results

A psycho-educational program is necessary for the proper development of motivation, both in the short term and for the maintenance of the results obtained. It is quite common for obese people to have tried diets and workout routines without achieving the desired results in the past, and they often have excessive but inadequate information about diet or exercise.

In many occasions, they tend to get “intoxication” due to the cultivation of aesthetics. They think results will come quickly and have thoughts of unrealistic weight changes, the result of their irrational beliefs.. In a culture that values ​​image as one of the keys to personal success and social acceptance, it’s no surprise that this is so.

Therefore, and to avoid inappropriate thoughts and expectations, the patient must attend psychoeducation sessions, in order to have knowledge about diet, the influence of emotions on behavior or exercise and health.

The application of individual cognitive behavioral therapy programs

On many occasions, obese people co-morbidly with certain psychological disorders that can interfere with the progress and treatment of the program and therefore should be screened for. For example, the presence of eating disorders (eg, binge eating disorder), nocturnal eating syndrome, or depression is common. this requires individualized treatment from the start of the program to ensure good adherence to treatment and the achievement of set goals.

Other types of issues, such as low self-esteem, impulsiveness, or negative problem-solving styles, may also require individualized therapy. For this, different cognitive-behavioral techniques are generally used.

These are the most common:

  • Self-control techniques: Self-observation, record sheets, realistic goal setting, or stimulus control are techniques that have been shown to be effective in this area.
  • Cognitive restructuring: The cognitive restructuring programs of Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis or others can help the patient to have knowledge about his own emotions or thoughts in the face of different problematic situations, as well as to detect irrational thoughts and to replace them with more adaptive ideas or beliefs.
  • Focus of the job: Work on self-esteem, beliefs in self-efficacy, perception of body image, strengthening of success is beneficial for the treatment of obesity.
  • Development of difficulty management skills: It is positive for the patient to acquire knowledge about alternative behaviors rather than about diet, social skills training, assertiveness or stress management strategies.
  • Reassessment and feedback: Particularly useful for monitoring and evolving product changes.

Psychological tips for losing weight

You might want to take a look at this article:

“10 psychological tips for losing weight”

Bibliographical references:

  • Lafuente, MD, (2011) Eating Disorders 14. 1490-1504.
  • Wing, RR, Phelan, S., (2005) Maintenance of long-term weight loss. I am J Clin Nutr. 82 Suppl 1: 222-225.

Leave a Comment