Recent literature suggests that individuals with eating disorders demonstrate altered interoceptive processing, which may relate to the maintenance of symptoms and thus represent a salient treatment target. Adopting treatment techniques effective for other conditions characterized by disturbed interoceptive processes (e.g., anxiety disorders)could aid in improving the outcomes of psychological interventions for eating disorders. The current investigation was a naturalistic case series (N = 4)that examined adjunctive interoceptive exposure (IE)for eating disorders, with an emphasis on evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of this intervention on anxiety sensitivity, interoceptive deficits, and eating disorder symptoms. Results suggested that all individuals who received 4 consecutive sessions of traditional and eating-disorder-specific IE exercises demonstrated decreases in interoceptive deficits and subjective distress. Results for anxiety sensitivity and eating disorder symptoms were encouraging yet more mixed. Findings also generally suggested that the intervention was feasible and acceptable, yet between-session practice compliance varied considerably among participants. Overall, we describe how IE may be used to target interoceptive deficits in eating disorders and provide preliminary evidence of how this may be accomplished within naturalistic intensive outpatient settings.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was partially supported by a Student Research award from the Academy for Eating Disorders . This study was also partially supported by Initiatives for Women – Karen R. Hitchcock New Frontiers Fund Award, University at Albany Graduate Initiative Grant Program. Authors of this work were also supported by the National Institute of Mental Health [grant number T32 MH082761 ] and the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation. The opinions and assertions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not to be construed as reflecting the views of the USUHS or the US Department of Defense.
- Case series
- Eating disorders
- Exposure therapy
- Interoceptive deficits
- Interoceptive exposure