The New Maudsley Approach

The aim of the New Maudsley Model is to lower anxiety and distress in family members and to give carers some communication tools to help engage their loved one to improve their self-esteem and develop the resilience to embark on change. Just as it paralyses sufferers, an eating disorder can paralyse carers and prevent them from effectively helping. Carers can also behave in rigid patterns that can inadvertently maintain the illness (Treasure, et al. 2007b; Treasure et al. 2008a). Judging how to help varies with the age and maturity of the sufferer. From our research, we know that it is important for carers to remain involved (especially concerning food and eating) for practical, legal and moral reasons. Carers can also be a bridge between the sufferer and professionals and can help change to occur by role modelling self-reflection and self-care. The New Maudsley Model specifically focuses on carers understanding of the psycho-social and biological impact of the eating disorder and provides a skills-based programme to help ameliorate these behaviours.

The New Maudsley Method should not be directly compared with the Maudsley Family Therapy programme, also known as Family-Based Treatment or the Maudsley Approach. The latter is a family therapy rooted approach for the treatment of anorexia nervosa devised by Gerald Russell, Christopher Dare, Ivan Eisler and colleagues at the Maudsley Hospital in London in the 1970’s and 80’s. Maudsley Family Therapy is an evidenced-based approach to the treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in adolescents, whose efficacy has been supported by empirical research with families (Dare, et al. 2001; Dare & Eisler, 1995; Lock, et al. 2001; Russell, et al. 1997). There are three stages: weight restoration, returning control of the eating back to the adolescent and establishing healthy adolescent identity. One of the primary aims of the Maudsley Approach is to raise parents’ anxiety in order to mobilize them to take control of their adolescent’s eating. Family based therapy states that it is atheoretical. In contrast, the New Maudsley Method is based on theory. One aspect of this is that high anxiety in carers can be unhelpful. Also, the New Maudsley Method is a form of “parenting/therapy intervention” using high level communication and behaviour change skills and social support to facilitate change.

Professor Janet Treasure, one of the authors of the New Maudsley Approach, has been working at the Maudsley Hospital in eating disorders since 1981 and was involved when the first trial of FBT was in progress. Thus, the New Maudsley Method has evolved in order to adapt to the needs of adult patients as well. There have also been changes in the delivery and content of FBT at the Maudsley, first with separated family therapy and more recently multi-family workshops.

Raising carer anxiety can be less suitable for older patients, or for patients where this has been counterproductive. The New Maudsley Method is an additional treatment protocol for parents and clinicians. Its primary aim is to reduce stress and anxiety in carers and equip them with a similar skill set to that used by clinicians in an inpatient setting. The skills described in this website are intended to be used as an adjunct to treatment, as opposed to a treatment in their own right. Workshops that deliver the information, skills and techniques found within the New Maudsley Method, are currently being rolled out over the UK. However, workshops (mainly run by trained volunteers) cost a lot in time, money and organisation and not all carers will have access to these facilities. Hence, the aim of this website is to disseminate psycho-educational information and guidance to those carers who neither have the opportunity to participate in organized workshops nor have access to telephone coaching support. This website is also for clinicians using the New Maudsley Method who can share their experiences of running these workshops and keep abreast of any new developments.