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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Supportive Psychotherapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, is looking for individuals to participate in clinical studies. Participating in clinical research allows you to play an active role in developing future treatments for many disorders of the brain and nervous system. The information below is designed to help you quickly learn about actively recruiting research studies for which you or someone you know may be eligible.


The purpose of this study is to learn more about two different types of psychotherapy to help individuals who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is a severe, often chronic, and common disorder consisting of distressing or impairing preoccupation with perceived defects in one's physical appearance. Individuals with BDD have very poor psychosocial functioning and high rates of hospitalization and suicidality. Because BDD differs in important ways from other disorders, psychotherapies for other disorders are not adequate for BDD. Despite BDD's severity, there is no adequately tested psychosocial treatment (psychotherapy) of any type for this disorder. This study will compare the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Supportive Psychotherapy as well as predictors of improvement.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a common and severe disorder in which a person is preoccupied by perceived defects in his or her appearance. The purpose of this research study is to learn more about two different forms of therapy to help individuals with BDD: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a promising new treatment for BDD, and supportive psychotherapy (SPT), the most commonly received therapy for BDD. The investigators would like to find out which treatment is more effective for BDD. The investigators will also examine patient characteristics that may predict response to treatment.

Participants will be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to receive 22 sessions (over 24 weeks) of either CBT or SPT. Both treatments teach participants about BDD. CBT focuses on helping participants to develop more adaptive thoughts and beliefs and to gradually reduce avoidance and compulsive (repetitive) behaviors. SPT focuses on relationships, feelings, and other factors that may affect BDD symptoms (e.g., work, stress), and helps participants to cope with challenges in their life by improving self-esteem and positive coping.

For each participant, this study will last for 12 months. CBT and SPT sessions occur for 22 sessions over 24 weeks. The severity of participants' BDD-related symptoms and other symptoms will be assessed at the end of treatment (week 24), and at 3- and 6-months after treatment ends.

Eligibility Criteria:

Please follow this link for trial eligibility information to share with your doctor.

Study Design: 

Interventional, Purpose: Treatment

Study Locations: 

Multiple US Locations

For more information:

Contact: Claire Nishioka; telephone: 877-464-4233; email: or Richard Meza-Lopez; telephone: 401-444-1646; email:; or visit:

Last Reviewed October 18, 2015