Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)


Institute of Psychiatry, London




Body Dysmorphic Disorder


Behavioral: CBT specific for BDD
Behavioral: Non specific CBT

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The aim of the research is to determine if Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) specific for BDD is more effective than a credible non-specific form of CBT for treating BDD and its delusional variant in adults aged 17 or over. This will be done in a single centre randomised controlled trial that compares specific CBT for BDD versus non-specific CBT over 12 weeks. The hypotheses to be tested are that: (1) specific CBT for BDD will be more effective than non-specific CBT at 12 weeks (2) Treatment effects from Specific CBT will be maintained at 1 month follow up. The main study end-point is at 12 weeks and the secondary end-point is at 1 month follow up. A secondary aim is to explore whether delusionality (insight) as measured by the Brown Assessment of Beliefs and co-morbid depressed mood predicts response to treatment.


46 patients




17 to 65 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • BDD is the main psychological problem. We will use DSMIV criteria as BDD does not exist as a separate diagnosis in ICD10. They may have an additional diagnosis of Delusional Disorder when it refers to beliefs about being ugly or defective.
  • They must have a total of 24 or more on the twelve-item YBOCS modified for BDD (Phillips et al., 1997).
  • They may be of either gender but must be 17 years or above.
  • They are willing to travel to the treatment centre for weekly sessions.
  • They are wiling to complete regular questionnaires and be audiotaped for supervision and for listening to enhance their learning.
  • They may be taking psychotropic medication so long as it is stabilised and there are no plans to increase the dose.

Exclusion criteria

  • They have a current or past diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder.
  • They have current suicidal intent or severe self-neglect that requires hospitalisation.
  • They have a current alcohol or substance dependence or anorexia nervosa or borderline personality disorder that requires treatment in its own right.
  • They are currently receiving any other form of psychotherapy,
  • They have received CBT for BDD in the past 6 months, which is judged as competently delivered and did not respond.
  • They cannot speak sufficient English for CBT. (Assistance will be provided for those who speak English but are unable to read questionnaires).

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

46 participants in 2 patient groups

CBT specific for BDD
Experimental group
This consisted of 12 wks of 1 hr sessions (1 per week).The consisted of engagement in a developmental understanding of the problem and setting up an alternative view of the problem. Imagery rescripting followed for past aversive memories that were associated with the onset (e.g. bullying). The behaviours were aimed at either (1) threat detection and monitoring or (2) preventing feared consequences by avoidance or (3) attempts to undo the appearance concerns. The therapist aimed to help individuals identify their beliefs about processes, conduct behavioural experiments that tested out their expectations and to gradually drop the safety-seeking behaviours and test out their fears.
Behavioral: CBT specific for BDD
Non Specific CBT
Active Comparator group
Anxiety Management treatment was provided once a week for 12 weeks, with each session lasting 1 hr. AM was planned to entail a therapeutic alliance, support and homework similar to the CBT group. The rationale provided was that when triggered, the person would experience a threat and negative thoughts about their appearance. This, in turn, would lead to physical symptoms of anxiety and magnify the perceived threat. The treatment consisted of (1) practising progressive muscle relaxation and breathing daily, (2) identifying triggers and physical symptoms associated with appearance-related anxiety and (3) utilising brief muscle relaxation and breathing techniques in trigger situations.
Behavioral: Non specific CBT

Trial contacts and locations



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