Search Blog

Sumati Gupta, PhD

Dr. Gupta is a licensed psychologist and professor at Barnard College, Columbia University. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety and eating/weight issues at Tribeca Psychology in NYC

Top Eating Disorders Treatment Information


Using text messages as part of treatment for bulimia and binge eating

Attending an inpatient program when your eating disorder symptoms escalate is often an intense experience. While the program may help reduce symptoms, it can be hard to maintain healthier habits after leaving and suddenly losing a tremendous amount of support. In a study just released online, researchers in Germany added a novel text messaging component in their plan for patients leaving the hospital.

The study, to be published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, focused on 165 women hospitalized for bulimia or binge eating. While hospitalized, they received cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). After being released, half of them took part in a new text message program while the other half continued with previously standardized protocols.

In the texting program, women sent messages weekly for 16 weeks describing how the felt about their bodies, frequency of binging, and frequency of purging or related behaviors. In response, they received tailored texts offering support and feedback on the use of specific CBT skills to help.

The women who were part of the text message program seemed to fare better than those who were not (control group). Compared to the control group, women in the text program were better able to maintain the reduction in symptoms they had previously achieved in the hospital.

Why would an automated text messaging program be helpful? The study authors suggest it’s because writing the weekly texts improved patients’ ability to monitor their symptoms (a CBT skill termed “self-monitoring) and the tailored feedback texts helped patients reduce their symptoms by reminding them of appropriate CBT skills.

With increasing technological tools at our disposal, people with eating disorders can benefit from treatment that takes advantage of online therapy, mobile phone apps, and, of course, text messaging. 


Have comments or questions? Discuss them on the facebook page or contact Dr. Gupta directly

Dr. Gupta is a professor at Barnard College of Columbia University and provides individual therapy at Tribeca Psychology

Stay up to date on the latest research: Follow the blog on twitter, like on facebook, or subscribe.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Can a 4 hour program for couples prevent eating disorders? | Main | Binge eating after age 65 »