Two models of multiple family therapy in the treatment of adolescent anorexia nervosa: a systematic review

  • Zoé GelinEmail author
  • Solange Cook-Darzens
  • Yves Simon
  • Stéphan Hendrick


Multiple family therapy (MFT) is a therapeutic method that brings together several families affected by the same pathology. Although from an ideological and conceptual point of view, MFT is often linked to family therapy and group therapy, it is difficult to define it with precision, a weakness which may in turn hinder research on therapeutic effectiveness. This is most notable in the field of eating disorders (ED) where, in spite of MFT’s great popularity, research evidence remains limited. Within the context of a systematic review of the literature on MFT in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, the purpose of this article is to provide a theoretical and clinical framework for describing two MFT models, in an attempt to explore their common and distinct concepts, principles, techniques, and factors of change. The first program is a day treatment adaptation of the Maudsley family-based MFT approach, developed in Belgium at the Therapeutic Centre for Adolescents suffering from Eating Disorders: it focuses on the management of ED symptoms, using a strong cognitive behavioral orientation. The second is an integrated systemic MFT outpatient and inpatient program carried out on the ED unit of a pediatric hospital in Paris, France: it emphasizes intra- and inter-family relationships within a systemic framework. Our effort to describe and compare these two models constitutes a first step toward determining the relative value of different models of MFT. Indeed, each model presents specific characteristics that may make it best suited for specific ED populations and/or types of families.


Multiple family therapy Eating disorders Maudsley method Family-based treatment Integrated systemic therapy Therapeutic process Literature review 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

This is a review article and it does not contain any studies with human participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zoé Gelin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Solange Cook-Darzens
    • 2
  • Yves Simon
    • 3
  • Stéphan Hendrick
    • 1
  1. 1.Systemic and Psychodynamic Clinical Psychology DepartmentUniversity of MonsMonsBelgium
  2. 2.Child and Adolescent Psychiatry DepartmentRobert Debré HospitalParisFrance
  3. 3.Centre Thérapeutique du Trouble alimentaire de l’Adolescent (CTTA)Le Domaine Centre HospitalierBraine l’AlleudBelgium

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