National Eating Disorders Association

Harnessing Technology for Training Clinicians to Deliver Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Denise Wilfley, PhD

NEDA announced the first recipients of the Feeding Hope Fund for Clinical Research & Training grant at the 2013 Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Totaling $400,000, the two grants were given to Daniel Le Grange, PhD and Denise Wilfley, PhD with an eye on utilizing technology to improve treatment for eating disorders.

 In this post, Dr. Wilfley talks more in depth about her project, Harnessing Technology for Training Clinicians to Deliver Interpersonal Psychotherapy :

 To effectively identify and treat patients with eating disorders, greater numbers of trained clinicians are needed to deliver evidence-based treatments. However, typical training methods rely on in-person training workshops, which can be costly, offered at limited times, and only accessible to a relatively small number of trainees. Moreover, it is often not possible to provide trainees with ongoing supervision (e.g., continued assessment and feedback on how well clinicians are delivering the treatment, routine opportunities to dialogue about challenging issues related to treatment delivery) once they start using the newly-learned treatment with their patients. Thus, innovative strategies are needed to reach more clinicians and effectively train them to deliver evidence-based care.

 Through generous funding from the Feeding Hope Fund, we are developing the first guided online training program for interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), an evidence-based treatment for bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and subclinical eating disorders. The use of an online program offers substantial benefits over in-person training methods, including: (a) reduced burden on staff to deliver training, (b) broader reach regarding the numbers of clinicians who can be trained (including extended access into rural or resource-limited communities), (c) reduced costs to receive and provide training, (d) more flexible training procedures (e.g., trainees can complete the program on their own time, go back and review material, and seek guidance from a web-based support team), and (e) enhanced standardization and quality of training and treatment delivery. Thus, by reducing barriers to training, more clinicians can be trained to deliver effective care, resulting in the potential for a substantial, positive impact on care for patients with eating disorders.

 To complement the increased reach and access afforded by online training, we are also developing an innovative procedure for providing ongoing supervision using a novel telephone-based simulation assessment. Combined, the guided online training program and the telephone-based simulation assessment will increase our ability to train providers to the highest quality through streamlined training and assessments that conserve person-based resources.

 This project is just one step in our team’s vision to develop a comprehensive system of care for eating disorder intervention using online resources. Once the guided online training program is established, we can readily integrate training programs for other evidence-based treatments for eating disorders. Additionally, the online training program can be combined with online stepped care programs (such as the Healthy Body ImageTM program) to provide early intervention to individuals who do not require more intensive, in-person services.

 Our team is thrilled to embark on this novel partnership with NEDA. Evaluating and establishing best practices for training in evidence-based treatments for eating disorders will help us to improve the health and quality of life of our patients and their families. 


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