Comparative Efficacy of Spirituality, Cognitive, and Emotion Support Groups for Treating Eating Disorder Patients


eating disorder, spirituality, treatment, therapy, depression, anxiety


Spiritual interventions are rarely used in contemporary treatment programs and little empirical evidence is available concerning their effectiveness. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a spiritual group intervention for eating disorder inpatients. We compared the effectiveness of a Spirituality group with Cognitive and Emotional Support groups using a randomized, control group design. Participants were 122 women receiving inpatient eating disorder treatment. Patients in the Spirituality group tended to score significantly lower on psychological disturbance and eating disorder symptoms at the conclusion of treatment compared to patients in the other groups, and higher on spiritual well-being. On weekly outcome measures, patients in the Spirituality group improved significantly more quickly during the first four weeks of treatment. This study provides preliminary evidence that attending to eating disorder patients’ spiritual growth and well-being during inpatient treatment may help reduce depression and anxiety, relationship distress, social role conflict, and eating disorder symptoms.

Original Publication Citation

Richards, P. S., Berrett, M. E., Hardman, R. K., & Eggett, D. L. (2006). Comparative efficacy of spirituality, cognitive, and emotional support groups for treating eating disorder inpatients. Eating Disorders: Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 14, 401-415.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Eating Disorders




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor