Diagnosis: Bulimia Nervosa

2015 EST Status: Treatment pending re-evaluation Very strong: High-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms and functional outcomes at post-treatment and follow-up; little risk of harm; requires reasonable amount of resources; effective in non-research settings

Strong: Moderate- to high-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms OR functional outcomes; not a high risk of harm; reasonable use of resources

Weak: Low or very low-quality evidence that treatment produces clinically meaningful effects on symptoms or functional outcomes; Gains from the treatment may not warrant resources involved

Insufficient Evidence: No meta-analytic study could be identified

Insufficient Evidence: Existing meta-analyses are not of sufficient quality

Treatment pending re-evaluation

1998 EST Status: Strong Research Support Strong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.

Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.

Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.

Strength of Research Support

Empirical Review Status
2015 Criteria
(Tolin et al. Recommendation)
Very Strong
Insufficient Evidence
Treatment pending re-evaluation
1998 Criteria
(Chambless et al. EST)

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Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: Symptoms are related to interpersonal issues, and addressing interpersonal problems can alleviate the symptoms of bulimia nervosa
  • Essence of therapy: Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on helping clients understand how interpersonal factors contribute to, and are associated with, bulimia nervosa symptoms. Therapists work with the client to explore, identify, and change maladaptive interpersonal patterns; as more adaptive interpersonal patterns are developed, bulimia nervosa symptoms will decrease. Treatment is divided into three phases. The first phase focuses on raising awareness of how interpersonal factors are associated with bulimia nervosa symptoms. The second phase focuses on addressing and resolving the client’s interpersonal conflict and problems. The third phase focuses on discussing impending termination, reviewing progress made in therapy, and exploring ways the client can address interpersonal difficulties in the future.
  • Length: 12-16 weeks

Treatment Resources

Editors: Patty Kuo, M.A.; Zac Imel, Ph.D.

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice

Treatment Manuals / Outlines

Treatment Manuals
Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites

Training Materials and Workshops

Interpersonal Psychotherapy Institute Training Programs

Measures, Handouts and Worksheets

Video Demonstrations

Videos Available for Purchase Through External Sites

No videos of IPT for Bulimia Nervosa are available; however, video demonstrations of IPT for Depression are available below as IPT for Bulimia Nervosa was adapted from IPT for Depression.

Clinical Trials

Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews

Other Treatment Resources