A Comparative Evaluation of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Vs. Exercise Therapy (ET) for the Treatment of Body Image Disturbance: Preliminary Findings

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was compared to a combination of aerobic/anaerobic exercise therapy (ET) for the treatment of elevated levels of body image disturbance in college females. CBT consisted of a modification of the 1987 Butters and Cash procedure that was tailored for group intervention; ET consisted of weightlifting and aerobic dancing. Using a counterbalancing procedure, the same therapists conducted both 6-week interventions, which were compared to a nontreated control group. Results revealed equivalent reductions for both treatment groups when compared to controls on measures of body image disturbance reflective of trait and state body weight anxiety, cognitive-behavioral aspects of appearance, and overall body dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, few subjects were available for follow-up analyses, preventing an evaluation of the stability of changes. The findings are discussed with regard to the potential role of fitness training as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral interventions for body image disturbance.

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Behavior Modification, v. 18, issue 2, p. 171-185