Stage 3, the final stage in treatment, consists of several appointments at 2-week intervals. The aim is to ensure that progress is maintained. There are two elements to 'relapse prevention'. First, patients must have realistic expectations regarding the future. A common problem is that many hope never to binge again. It needs to be explained that this makes them vulnerable to relapse since it encourages a negative reaction to even minor setbacks. All patients should be told to expect lapses with the eating problem continuing to be their Achilles' heel. The goal is for patients to identify setbacks as early as possible, view them as a 'lapse' rather than a 'relapse', and have prepared a well-developed plan for dealing with them. Thus, the second element of relapse prevention is the construction of such a plan. To this end, the therapist and patient should review the components of treatment with the aim of identifying the principles and procedures that were most relevant and helpful. On this basis a plan for addressing setbacks may be devised.
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