Therapy and Weight Loss Plans

Reader’s Question

I am a 33-year-old mother of three, and I have severe issues with weight. I have tried every weight loss plan known to man. I lose weight — then gain it back after a short while. I don’t know if seeing a therapist will help.

Psychologist’s Reply

There’s a difference between seeing a therapist versus seeing a therapist as part of a weight loss program. Seeing a therapist for issues related to self-esteem, motivation, poor self-image, etc. may be helpful. However, your best and most effective approach may be to see a therapist as part of a weight loss program.

In a 2003 publication in JAMA, for example, researchers studied the effects of Internet Behavioral Counseling on weight loss in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes. Their conclusion: “Adding e-mail counseling to a basic internet weight loss intervention program significantly improved weight loss in adults at risk of diabetes.”

Another study found “three of the four studies demonstrated that behavior therapy, when used in conjunction with other weight loss approaches, was more effective in reducing weight or delaying weight regain.”

Yes, seeing a therapist could be helpful. It would be more helpful if you saw a therapist who is coordinating their treatment with an ongoing weight reduction plan. Two approaches focusing on the same issue (weight loss and weight regain) are better than each approach individually.

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