As mental health care evolves and changes as a Trust, we need to develop with it to ensure we keep up to date with the best care for anyone who walks through our doors for help. This can be achieved in various ways, from hiring new graduates with up-to-date knowledge ready to spread the word to conducting our research studies to trial new forms of treatment. Our latest study we are running at Sussex Partnership is with our Voices Clinic to look at voice-hearing in the context of Anorexia and testing if Relating Therapy is helpful across a range of conditions.
Our Sussex Voices Clinic team, with the funding aid of Canterbury Christ Church University and the Economic and Social Research Council, is looking to see if targeted psychological therapy called Relating Therapy can reduce the distress associated with voice-hearing experiences within the context of Anorexia Nervosa. Relating Therapy targets the negative relating that can maintain voice-related distress and teaches assertiveness as an alternative response.
Anorexia Nervosa, more commonly referred to as Anorexia, is an eating disorder that causes a person to have a severe and intense fear of gaining weight, along with distorting the perception of their appearance. This can lead to them feeling low and having a voice in their head telling them negative things and 'telling them off' for eating. Anorexia Nervosa not only affects the person but can profoundly and severely impact individuals and those around them, who can see the effects but might not know how to help. Recommended psychological interventions are typically not found to be helpful by people with the illness who often have difficulties for a long time and have regular periods of relapse. Due to this, there has been a need for new therapeutic approaches. Previous research into Anorexia Nervosa suggests that voice-hearing experiences are common and that over time, a relationship is formed with what is often called the "Anorexic Voice" or the "Eating Disorder Voice".
So, what are we asking participants to do? When they sign up, they will be offered Relating Therapy over 24 weeks. Participants will complete different questionnaires before, during and after the intervention to help us better understand the impact of receiving this therapy and if it helped improve their condition. We hope that participants will find that talking about what they are going through will be helpful; However, we know that this will be hard, so all therapists will be trained in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa and "Anorexic Voice" to be able to help participants cope with any temporary increases in distress, should they need it. The study will run from December 2022 to April 2023. At the end of our research, we hope to learn if Relating Therapy will be helpful to people with AN, which will help our services when planning what therapies to offer our service users.