Dialectic Behaviour Therapy and Islam in treating Eating Disorders






What is a life worth living?  That is the essential question behind Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the goal of which is to help individuals build a life that has meaning and worth, with a freedom from suffering.


Dear Readers,


Please find below an article by Mary from Canada on using Dialectic Behaviour Therapy in treating Eating Disorders. In Lahore, Pakistan, Rainbow Eating Disorder Centre has reported great success in using this therapy to treat all Eating Disorders especially Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. The Centre of Eating Disorders has also reported effectiveness of using DBT in treating Eating Disorders:


Research has shown DBT to be effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, substance dependence, chronic life threatening behavior, and dissociative behaviors.  These are issues that often co-occur with EDs.  The research directly linking the utility of DBT for EDs is preliminary, but investigations have shown promising results for patients with Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder.


Islam and Dialectic Behaviour Therapy

Dialectic Behaviour2

Mary Canada


Dialectic Behaviour 1


Relationships are the foundation and theme of human life, most human behavior takes place in the context of the individual’s relationships with others. The problem of man cannot be solved scientifically without a clear statement of the relationship, it’s so important sequel to the fact that such is a strong, deep, or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring. This association may be based on inference, love, solidarity, regular business interactions, or some other type of social commitment.


Relationships 2

Eating disorders can impact many areas of life, such as family, school or social life. An eating disorder can dominate people’s lives so can also affect friendships and romantic/intimate relationships. People we spoke with often described struggling with trust and self-confidence which could cause problems, particularly in romantic relationships and with physical intimacy. Often, individuals with eating disorders feel disconnected and set apart from family members, and yet yearn for meaningful relationships with these same family members. These individuals can feel confused about these opposing feelings, with little direction on how to resolve them.                   


Despite these issues, family system in Islam and staying together helps a sufferer of depression and eating disorder in recovery In Islam seeks to create durable bases for relationship within the family, which is the building block of a society, such in Islam family is considered as the first school of children where they are not only nurtured but also taught basic morals and etiquette so that the children can appreciate Islamic ethos and values.

A stable family will give rise to a stable society and a stable civilization. All this requires that both parents and children should be mindful of their obligations towards each other along with their rights so that they may love and respect each other. Islam enjoins its adherents to love children and to be mindful of their responsibilities towards them from the very beginning of their inception and even earlier to it. The Qur’an says: And be mindful of your duty to God in whose name you appeal to one another and to the ties of the womb. Thus, Islam emphasizes that parents should realize that the proper development of the child begins ‘from the mother’s womb itself hence the parents should be concerned about their prospective child from the very beginning.

Family system in Islam helps to illuminate why and how these relationships can become strained, and provides useful insight into how these relationships can be strengthened and utilized in eating disorder treatment. After a brief review of family system in Islam, the use of the father-daughter relationship in eating disorder treatment will be discussed, with attention to specific interventions that may guide treatment in this area.

As children develop expectations of others, their future cognitive, behavioral, and emotional responses are guided. These responses are tied to one’s mental perception of self.  Thus, if a child sees himself as capable, his responses with others will reflect that sense of capability. Children who perceive parents as warm and responsive often will perceive themselves as loved and valued, and they develop the expectation that their needs will be met. Conversely, children may come to view themselves as rejected and unloved when they view their parents this way, regardless of the good intent of most parents. These children learn to expect little from the world around them, and rather than looking to self and relationships for meeting needs, these individuals develop alternative strategies to cope with emotional stress.



daughters fathers response
While not much is known regarding the father-daughter relationship and eating disorders, recent efforts have sought to illuminate this relationship. Research documents the need for clinicians’ attention to the father-daughter relationship as part of comprehensive care for eating disorders. Report says that careful consideration of how fathers may be utilized in eating disorder treatment leads to more healing and long-term recovery. For example one Oliver says that been chided by her father for taking snacks, but then her father demanded that she clean her plate when he prepared dinner for the family. Oliver says that she often lose touch with intuitive hunger and satiety cues when such mixed messages are presented in the family. Sometimes fathers can make love and connection contingent on food issues, such as the father playing “chef” and requiring the family to eat all that was presented to them as a way of affirming his own needs.








Fathers may respond to a daughter’s eating concerns in various ways, be that a reliance on practicality (“just eat”) or complete avoidance of the issue. Responses to this question range from “my father has never said a word,” to “Have some broccoli. It’s good for you and it won’t make you fat.” It’s unclear which response is more troubling-no response at all, which serves to minimize the daughter’s experience and suffering, or a wholly practical response which fails to grasp the complexity of the eating disorder. Either way, these responses tend to undermine the daughter’s efforts to receive help. They may reinforce her belief that “nothing is wrong,” or the belief that her concerns are not valid and that she is not worthy of concern.



In addition to addressing key exploratory questions, Is there competition or jealousy within the family system? Unfortunately, at times family members may try to sabotage the father-daughter relationship in order to meet one’s own needs. What is the daughter’s role in the family? What would be the costs to the family if the daughter were to be well? These dynamics are complex and must be considered with care,an understanding of family dynamics can help clarify the roles he or she might take in providing corrective emotional experiences. For instance, might the therapist provide the role of nurturing mother in which the person affected with eating disorder  can learn and test boundaries, and receive nurturing and acceptance?



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Another effort that can have lasting impact in improving family relationships in Islam is encouraging father-daughter time. While mothers and daughters can often find common ground for interactions, this can be more challenging for fathers and daughters. It may help to have a specific activity or focus of the time together. Cultivating the father-daughter relationship can buoy a daughter during treatment and recovery. So many of these individuals struggle with a sense of worth, and yet receiving messages from their fathers asserting their value and worth can have lasting impact despite these issues, friends could give important practical and emotional support through recovery. It was often close friends who first noticed something might be wrong with their eating or health


Family system in Islam is well suited for conceptualizing the complex family relationships often present in eating disorder treatment. The father-daughter relationship represents one potentially important influence, and careful assessment and appropriate use of this relationship can be key to successful treatment and long-term recovery.

“I looked at all friends and did not find a better friend than safeguarding the tongue. I thought about all dresses but did not find a better dress than piety. I thought about all types of wealth but did not find a better wealth than contentment in little. I thought of all types of good deeds but did not find a better deed than offering good advice. I looked at all types of sustenance, but did not find a better sustenance than patience.”

– Muslim Quotes










About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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