Basically, the transgenerational therapy refers to the past of families, where the problems causing anorexia nervosa are identified and eliminated (Killian, 1994). This approach to the treatment of anorexia nervosa is quite effective on the condition of the revelation of the cause of anorexia nervosa in adolescents in the past. If the cause of anorexia nervosa is irrelevant to the past of the family or adolescent, then this therapy cannot be always effective.
As for the structural family therapy, this therapy focuses on current relationships within the family and hierarchical organization which defines relationships within the family. The negative patterns of behavior in the family are identified and eliminated to prevent anorexia nervosa (Killian, 1994). This family therapy helps the therapist to find out the actual problem in the family and use the assistance of parents to treat anorexia nervosa in adolescent children. However, often causes of anorexia nervosa lie behind the family and the therapist should take this fact into consideration but still the support of the family is crucial for the recovery of adolescent patients with anorexia nervosa.
In the strategic family therapy, the therapist interrupts dysfunctional interactions and introduces positive behavioral patterns (Killian, 1994). Basically, this family therapy is similar to the structural family therapy but the strategic family therapy does not stress interpretations of behavioral patterns of adults and adolescents. Instead, the strategic family therapy sets the strategic direction in which the family is going to develop.
At the same time, the family therapy is not the only effective approach to the treatment of adolescents with anorexia nervosa. As it has been already mentioned above, anorexia nervosa may develop under the impact of external factors, such as the pressure of peers or mass media, or stereotypes imposed on adolescents by the mainstream culture. As a result, the family food culture and habits may be irrelevant to anorexia nervosa in children but the help of parents in recovering the adolescent child is important. However, the family therapy may be backed up by other treatment strategies.
For instance, Massey-Stokes (2000) recommend using education programs to prevent the development of anorexia nervosa and use the psychological help to treat anorexia nervosa in adolescents. Massey-Stokes (2000) suggests several key elements of the prevention and treatment of anorexia nervosa: the development of positive self-esteem in adolescents; development of important personal and social skills and coping skills; experiences that promote self-confidence and independence; education about the normative changes in adolescence and importance of balanced nutrition; opportunities to challenge socio-cultural myths and attitudes regarding body shape; activities to influence the media and form a critical view of adolescents on the “ideal”ť body image shaped by the media (Massey-Stokes, 2000). The implementation of educational programs can help to prevent the development of anorexia nervosa and stop its progress, if an adolescent has already developed the health problem. In fact, educational programs are very important because they contribute to the prevention of the development of anorexia nervosa in adolescents. The more adolescents know about specificities of their physiological development the better because they learn to perceive themselves as they are.