Anorexia Nervosa Treatments - Token Economy and Systematic Desensitisation

  • Created by: Hamda
  • Created on: 11-03-14 17:30

Learning Approach Treatments for Anorexia Nervosa - TEP and SD.

Can be used for other treatments, just remember to relate it back to that disorder.

Anorexia treatment: Learning approach

Token Economy Programmes:

This is based upon the principles of operant conditioning. It involves encouraging desired behaviour with the use of reinforcement and discouraging unwanted behaviour with the use of punishments. The programme would be used in a mental health unit or school. The aim is to obtain the specific desired behaviour (gaining weight) using a rewards system. The tokens act as rewards and can be exchanged for something that the participant wants (for example make-up, outings, TV privileges.) People are paid these tokens for behaving in the desired way.


1)      Identify the behaviour that needs to be changed (weight.)

2)      Both the participant and the member of staff leading the programme need to select the token and decide what they can be exchanged for.

Physical tokens can be used, or a points system; it should be decided where they would be kept and recorded.

3)      You need to make sure that the tokens ‘buy’ significant rewards. The rewards must have a meaning to the individuals, otherwise they will not be worthwhile having as rewards.

4)      Set goals that are achievable.

5)      Explain the whole programme to the individuals involved.

Make sure that the whole programme is clear to the participants so they know the aims, otherwise the programme will not work.

6)      Once they have gained a bit of weight, you should provide a reward.

7)      Review the programme and make amendments, such as altering the frequency of tokens given out, also give praise when the participant does well.



It is good at getting sufferers to a reasonable weight after which the issues can be addressed.

Token economy does not deal with the underlying issues.

It can be used in conjunction with other treatments.

May only work short-term whilst the person is being treated in an institution as it is too controlled. The programme is only targeted at one certain situation, so once released from the hospital, the situation would change and the participant…


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