Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft


Social Work


Eating Disorders affect millions of individuals each year and are often misunderstood. Current interventions are only successful about 50% of the time. Previous research suggests that Dialectical Behavior Therapy may be a promising intervention in treating this population, due to the high comorbidity of eating disorders and borderline personality disorder, as well as the similar symptomology. The purpose of this systematic literature review is to examine the question: How effective are DBT components in any combination in the treatment of eating disorders? This review includes only peer-reviewed articles published after 2010. The database PsychInfo was searched to gather research and the search terms included were; dialectical behavior therapy, DBT, mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, radically open dialectical behavior therapy, effectiveness, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, eating disorder not otherwise specified and eating disorders. After assessing each article for inclusion and exclusion criteria, nine articles were included in this review. Overall, Dialectical Behavior Therapy yielded positive outcomes in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and eating disorder not otherwise specified. The research examined in this review also poses that Dialectical Behavior Therapy is beneficial even when not offered in its comprehensive format. These studies found positive results when offering a comprehensive DBT program, individual therapy alone, skills group alone, a self-help guide paired with phone coaching, as well as interventions that focused on the mindfulness module only. Future research is needed to determine which components of DBT are most helpful in treating which eating disorder diagnoses, as well as to determine the most beneficial length of treatment.

Included in

Social Work Commons