Maudsley Anorexia Treatment (MANTRA) is a type of talking therapy that is primarily used for the mental health condition Anorexia Nervosa – which is an eating disorder that can have a debilitating effect on a person’s life.

Like many other types of treatment, there are advantages and disadvantages to it, as we cover in this article. Some people will find MANTRA works effectively for them, while others will not find relief from it.

Maudsley Anorexia Treatment helps to treat the eating disorder Anorexia nervosa

What is Maudsley Anorexia Treatment?

Maudsley Anorexia Treatment: Also known as MANTRA, this is a relatively new treatment type, developed by senior clinicians at the Maudsley Hospital in London. This model of treatment attempts to change the factors that contribute to the condition in the individual. Harmful personality traits can be addressed, with certain goals made for the future. Various behavioural experiments can be made, which can result in changes in eating behaviours. So far, this form of treatment has proved very helpful for many.

Advantages of Maudsley Anorexia Treatment

  • The evidence is good!: Past studies that have investigated the effectiveness of MANTRA for Anorexia nervosa have produced positive results [1].
  • No need for hospital treatment: One of the best elements of MANTRA is that the treatment does not need to take place in hospital – which is something that is rare among treatments for anorexia nervosa.
  • Doesn’t interfere with life too much: Another good strength of MANTRA is that it can take place alongside everyday life. If a person is trying to work or study whilst struggling with anorexia nervosa, MANTRA can still take place, and add minimal disruption to life.
  • MANTRA is highly structured: MANTRA’s process has been crafted based on years of knowledge and evidence. MANTRA has a tried and tested process, including its three-phase approach to treatment.
  • Helps strengthen family bonds: Because MANTRA typically involves the full family of the person suffering from the condition, it will often lead in the long-term to an improvement in understanding within a family, and strengthen their bond. It will probably put an initial strain on the family, but with long-term benefits.
  • Long-term benefits: For the person with Anorexia nervosa, they will typically receive treatment that will provide them with long-term support. Relapses appear to be rare, while the internet is full of people suggesting that MANTRA worked excellently for them.

Disadvantages of Maudsley Anorexia Treatment

  • Won’t help all sufferers of Anorexia nervosa: For those that are hospitalised as a result of anorexia nervosa, MANTRA is highly unlikely to help. While some elements of MANTRA could be helpful in many cases of anorexia nervosa, this form of therapy works best when a person is at home, rather than hospitalised.
  • Requirement of a supportive family: MANTRA works best when the person suffering from the eating disorder has a supportive family around them. Unfortunately, many won’t be in such a situation. Therefore, if the person with anorexia nervosa has a poor relationship with family members, it is unlikely that MANTRA will be effective.
  • Long-term therapy: Any treatment of a serious eating disorder is likely to take a lot of time. MANTRA does require a long-term commitment, and arguably more commitment than many other therapy types. MANTRA is not a short-term fix, and usually takes place over a 9-12 month period. This is a long time to commit to, but hopefully it will be worthwhile; unfortunately this won’t always be the case.
  • Strain on the Family: As MANTRA requires the whole family to provide support, it can inevitably cause strain within the family. It is especially difficult on the parents, as they need to sacrifice a lot of time for their child, and need to be very patient with them. If the family does find their relationships suffering, it can have a negative long-term effect.
  • Work between sessions: MANTRA won’t work if the lessons learned in therapy sessions aren’t put into practice between sessions. The therapist will give some goals for the patient to aim for, which will enable the full potential of MANTRA to be reached. But this does require active participation, which can be difficult when a person is living with a debilitating eating disorder.
  • Deep-seated trauma may not be treated: MANTRA looks at ways of improving the modern day, and helping the person with anorexia nervosa to try and focus on the present, whilst making incremental changes to their life. MANTRA only has limited effectiveness when approaching those with deep-seated trauma, which many people with this condition will suffer from.

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[1] Lock, J. (2011). Evaluation of family treatment models for eating disorders. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 24 (4), p274-279.