In a study reported online in AJP in Advance, researchers in the Oxford University Department of Psychiatry and University of Copenhagen Department of Psychology randomized bulimia patients to either two years of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy or 20 sessions of CBT over five months. Both therapies used versions designed specifically for bulimia treatment. The researchers found that while both treatments produced results, "a marked difference was observed" between the two. At the five-month evaluation, 42% of CBT patients and 6% of psychoanalytic psychotherapy patients had stopped binging and purging. At the two-year follow-up, 44% of CBT patients and 15% of psychoanalytic psychotherapy patients were no longer binging and purging. When improvement occurred, it was usually faster in patients receiving CBT. Study patients had eating-disorder symptoms for a mean of 12.3 years.
The researchers concluded that in light of the fact that substantial numbers of patients in each group still had bulimia symptoms after the therapy, "further treatment developments are needed. One could be the continued development and extension of CBT. Another could be the development of a more structured and symptom-focused version of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, possibly augmented with cognitive and behavioral strategies."
Read more in AJP in Advance about the report "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa."