Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) is a novel treatment for individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa (AN). The treatment focuses on the process of thought, and aims to raise awareness of how cognitions and behaviors characterized by rigidity and preoccupation with details, common in AN, can be altered through practice and metacognitive techniques.
The principal aim of the doctoral thesis was to establish the feasibility of individually delivered CRT for female adolescents with AN. Feasibility was explored in relation to i) treatment delivery, ii) recruitment and retention, and iii) assessment methods and materials. Twenty in- and outpatients recruited from Regional Seksjon Spiseforstyrrelser (RASP) and Barnesenteret at Ullevål Sykehus participated in the study.
The results from the study were published in 3 international peer-reviewed journals in 2013. The first paper is descriptive in its nature, and investigates various aspects of treatment delivery and factors associated with recruitment of patients, and treatment adherence. The second paper reports the investigation of the technicalities of assessing changes associated with CRT using psychological and neuropsychological methods and measures. The third paper describes the evaluation of a novel mode of CRT assessment: patient and parental self-reports, and delineates discrepancies between patients and parents in terms of executive function and dysfunction.
Findings from this doctoral work suggest that the intervention is feasible for this patient group, and contributes to the field by i) supporting the implementation of CRT in a mixed sample, ii) supporting heterogeneity in neuropsychological functioning, iii) challenging the use of neuropsychological assessment instruments to assess changes associated with CRT in adolescents, iv) illustrating discrepancies between patient and parental ratings pre- and post-CRT, and v) encouraging novel approaches to test the potency of CRT for young patients with AN. Based on the results from this feasibility trial, further investigations are warranted to refine methodology prior to embarking on a full-scale intervention aiming to assess the effect of CRT.