Duke Center for Eating Disorders

Duke Center for Eating Disorders

The Duke Center for Eating Disorders provides comprehensive, individualized treatment for the entire spectrum of eating and body image issues across the lifespan beginning with toddler-aged children.  Conditions we treat include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder (including pediatric binge eating)
  • Avoidance Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (including selective eating)
  • Eating issues that result from a medical condition (such as pediatric cancer or issues of the gastrointestinal or endocrine system)
  • Body Image Dysphoria (individuals uncomfortable living in their bodies but lacking eating symptoms)
  • Eating issues associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders

The treatment of eating disorders is greatly helped by the loving support of friends, partners, and family. Whenever possible, our philosophy is to incorporate as many individuals as is appropriate or beneficial for a given individual. Our experience is that families come away stronger when they participate in our program. 

Individual and Family Therapies

Your Initial Appointment

When your first appointment is scheduled with one of our therapists, you will receive an extensive diagnostic interview, a brief (or long) neuropsychological battery depending on which you request, and some questionnaires to complete about your experience of your body. After gathering this information and consulting with our treatment team, we will then conduct a feedback session in which we indicate the level of treatment that is appropriate, the model of treatment, what you can expect about the length of treatment, and how you will be able to measure treatment progress.

Empirically Validated Treatments Implemented at the DCED

At the DCED, our therapists are trained in empirically validated treatments for the management of eating disorders.  While we recommend these based on the clinical presentation of an individual, often individuals come to us requesting a specific form of therapy. We offer a brief description here, but are happy to answer questions about the nature of these therapies.

  • Family Therapy of Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa based on the Maudsley Method

This treatment emphasizes the importance of the family unit in the management of a child and adolescent eating disorder. In essence, we help parents to conduct the form of supportive meal support that occurs in a more intensive eating disorder program while working with the family on approaching challenging situations.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Under the leadership of Dr. Rhonda Merwin, a certified ACT trainer, our therapists are trained to implement this acceptance-based cognitive behavior therapy that helps individuals to build a rich and value-guided life even in the presence of unwanted or aversive experience.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This advanced cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on a theoretical model in which an individual's history of invalidation leads to a pervasive distrust and fear of emotional experience that sometimes promotes extreme behaviors to regulate that experience. We work closely with Dr. Zachary Rosenthal and his Cognitive and Dialectical Training Program to provide all the components of the DBT model.

  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Under the leadership of Dr. Noga Zerubavel, this treatment combines advances in cognitive-behavioral treatment with mindfulness based approaches. In so doing, it helps an individual to become more aware and accepting of ongoing joyous and aversive experiences so that life becomes more vital from moment to moment.

  • Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

Under the leadership of Dr. Laura Weisberg, this treatment builds on what is known about physiological changes that occur with the experience of traumatic life events. By helping individuals to activate the restorative branch of their nervous system in the presence of aversive remembrances, the individual is taught to more fully experience the full range of emotions rather than being closed off due to past traumatic events.

Empirically Validated Treatments Developed at the DCED

We are also known as innovators of treatment development based on emerging knowledge about the developmental neuroscience of eating disorders under the leadership of Center Director, Dr. Nancy Zucker. Some examples of the therapies we have developed and tested and that individuals can have access to include:

  • Appetite Awareness Training for the treatment of pediatric binge eating
  • “VOLCRAVO” craving exposure for the treatment of pediatric obesity
  • Group Parent Training for the management of adolescent eating disorders
  • Feeling and Body Investigators for children with elevated somatic symptoms and abdominal pain
  • Sensory Scientists is our treatment for individuals with selective eating or ARFID

Selective Eating Disorder / Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Nationally recognized experts. We have decades of experience improving our patients’ health and eating habits. Our pioneering program for adult picky eaters has been featured in Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal.   Research results and our program for children with selective eating have been featured byABC NightlineNPR and NBC and more.

Parent Weekend Workshop is a two-day educational workshop for parents who want to better understand the dynamics of this eating disorder and how it affects their family.  Parents leave with a "toolbox" to take home and are encouraged on how to communicate more effectively, practice even more patience and help their child become a "food scientist".   

Immersive Family Program is a five-day program for parents and their child who has selective eating.  A lot takes place during the week:  individual sessions with a therapist for parents and children separately, a family session, educational lectures presented by Dr. Nancy Zucker, Center Director, daily group food therapy sessions, an appointment with both a medical doctor and an occupational therapist and several group sessions for parents as well as children.   

Group Therapies

Groups offered through the Duke Center for Eating Disorders are always evolving and changing.  Make sure you are on our mailing list to stay on top of what is being offered  and when!

Here are groups that are ongoing during the months of August – December.  More may be added.


Learn self-compassion.  This is a new group for individuals whose struggle with themselves is keeping them from reaching their potential.

When:      Thursday Nights, 5:30-7:00pm, beginning August 27th

Where:     Civitan Building, 2213 Elba Street, Durham, NC 27705

Contact:   Nandini at nandini.datta@duke.edu or call the Center at 919-668-0398.

BREATHE ~ Bodies Revived – Empowered – Accepted – Teaching – Healing – Eating

A group for adults with lifelong, traumatic dieting experiences

For individuals who have a lifetime of unsuccessful weight loss attempts, the entire act of dieting can be a traumatic experience, bringing the individual into a state of chronic stress. This is a group about healing: re-evoking or creating for the first time a stance of self-parenting. Learn how to decide and honor signals of hunger, emotional experience, and emotional pain.

When:      Thursday nights, 4:30-6:00pm 

Where:     Civitan Building, 2213 Elba Street, Durham, NC 27705

Contact:   Noga – Noga.zerubavel@duke.edu or call the Center at 919-668-0398.


A group about coping with stigma for members of the LGBT Community

When:    Thursday nights, 5:30-7:00pm 

Where:   Civitan Building, 2213 Elba Street, Durham, NC 27705

Contact:  Dane – dane.whicker@duke.edu or call the Center at 919-668-0398.