The role of psychotherapy in obesity

How does psychotherapy work for obesity?

A number of factors can cause obesity, and the mind is one of them. The brain controls the body, and poor mental health can lead to poor life choices on a daily basis, overeating being one of them. Many people suffer from poor mental health due to a variety of reasons and find comfort in food; over time, they can develop unhealthy eating habits and find it impossible to make modifications. Psychotherapy can help in changing the lifestyle and promote a more positive self-image.

Pillars of psychotherapy 

Association, trauma, and disassociation are the essential pillars to develop the treatment for obesity, and these pillars cover both the manifestation and development of eating disorders in the patients. Therefore, these pillars of psychotherapy are used to identify and recognize eating disorders and replace the negative and damaging perception of the self with a strong and positive foundation to eradicate obesity.


When food meets the unfulfilled attachment needs, it becomes a source of comfort and tranquility, and the individual would eat in stressful times in order to stay calm and secure.


Psychological trauma is unique in individual cases and their experience of the incident. In some cases, trauma is not visible as a result of a singular incident but can be equally damaging. The symptoms of distress, anxiety, sadness, emptiness, and depression can act as triggers for binge eating.


Disassociation is the feeling of detachment with the inner self and emotions, like being on autopilot mode, and is widely seen in obese patients as a coping mechanism.

Eating disorders and obesity

People with eating disorders get immersed in a vicious cycle of bad eating habits and find themselves trapped in a loop. With the help of psychotherapy, they can break this cycle and take this opportunity to develop healthy lifestyle habits. Following eating disorders have the tendency to result in obesity;

Binge eating disorder

A person with a binge eating disorder is capable of eating an excessive amount of food within a short period of time and does not take part in any extra physical activity to compensate for their over-eating, so with time and consistency, they are more likely to get obese.


People with hyperphagia still want to eat even after eating properly. Their main focus is on eating, and their food consumption is increased in case of a stressful situation.

Nocturnal eating disorder

It includes food intake at night, either by eating food when waking up from sleep in the middle of the night increased food consumption after having dinner.

With the help of psychotherapy, the urge to eat and the triggers that activate binge eating are identified, and the moments when the person was able to control and regulate are recognized. Psychotherapy can help encourage and improve self-image, regain motivation and overcome the helplessness associated with making necessary modifications.