Centro de Investigação do Núcleo de Estudos e Intervenção Cognitivo-Comportamental



What is BEfree?

BEfree is a psychological program for women with binge eating and obesity. It integrates psychoeducation, mindfulness, compassion and promotion of self-care actions in a complementary manner throughout its 12 sessions, each with a duration of 2h30. BEfree is a standardized intervention carried out in a group format, and it is manualized in order for trained health-care professionals to guide group sessions.

The team

The intervention and research team is composed of 1 psychiatrist, 10 psychologists and 2 endocrinologists.

José Pinto-Gouveia, M.D, PhD (Principal Investigator)

Sérgio A. Carvalho, MSc. (Psychologist)

Lara Palmeira, MSc. (Psychologist)

Paula Castilho, PhD. (Psychologist)

Cristiana Duarte, MSc. (Psychologist)

Cláudia Ferreira, PhD. (Psychologist)

Joana Duarte, MSc. (Psychologist)

Marina Cunha, PhD. (Psychologist)

Marcela Matos, PhD. (Psychologist)

Joana Costa, PhD. (Psychologist)

Margarida Robalo, MSc. (Psychologist)

Dírcea Rodrigues, M.D. (Endocrinologist)

Patricia Oliveira, M.D. (Endocrinologist)

The intervention

Session Theme Goals


Creative Hopelessness

To present the foundation of BEfree and the structure of the intervention;

To kindly confront the agenda of control and promote acknowledgement of the unworkability of the control strategies

2, 3, 4 Psychoeducation To provide information on the evolutionary basis of emotions and discuss binge eating as a strategy to regulate negative affect and unwanted internal experiences, such as body shame, self-critical thoughts and overall painful emotions.
5 Values clarification

Introduction of values as life direction and how we want our lives to be;

Clarification of health-related values and reflection on obstacles that have prevented living in accordance to those values.


Experiential distancing

Acceptance and Willingness

Discuss language-related abilities as a source of psychological difficulties (the ubiquitous nature of suffering) and the difference between “describing” and “evaluating”.

To promote distancing from and acceptance of unwanted internal experiences.

To promote willingness to have difficult internal experiences.

8,9 Mindfulness To promote specific mindfulness skills (e.g., mindfulness breathing meditation, body-scan, mindfulness of thoughts).
10,11 Compassion Cultivating self-compassion as an alternative to shame and self-criticism (e.g. loving-kindness, safe-place and compassionate image)
12 Committed action To promote commitment to action by establishing new goals; anticipate potential setbacks and how to deal with them.
Note. Each session follows the same structure: 1) an initial moment of sharing personal experience; 2) a 5-minute mindfulness exercise; 3) the session theme; 4) an eating mindfulness exercise; 5) summary of the session content and homework assignments.

Funding bodies

BEfree was developed and its acceptability and efficacy were tested as part of a project entitled “BEfree: Group Intervention Program for Binge Eating” (ref PTDC/MHC-PCL/4923/2012), funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). The funded project started in July 2013 and ended in September 2015.

Research outputs

Publications in international journals

Pinto-Gouveia, J., Carvalho, S., Palmeira, L., Castilho, P., Duarte, C., Ferreira, C., Duarte, J., Cunha, M., Matos, M. & Costa, J. (2016). Incorporating psychoeducation, mindfulness and self-compassion in anew program for binge eating (BEfree): exploring processes of change. Journal of Health Psychology. [Advanced online publication]. http://hpq.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/11/11/1359105316676628.abstract


Publications in national journals

Pinto-Gouveia, J., Ferreira, C., Matos, M. & Carvalho, S. (2014). Befree: contextualização e desenvolvimento de um programa de intervenção em grupo para a ingestão ALIMENTAR compulsiva e Obesidade. Revista Factores de Risco, 34, 94-100. [doi: http://www.spc.pt/DL/RFR/artigos/551.pdf]


Presentations in international congresses

Carvalho, S., Palmeira, L., Castilho, P. & Pinto-Gouveia, J. (2015). BEfree – A group programme for Binge Eating in Obesity: preliminar results. 2015 ACBS World Conference, Berlin, 15-18 July 2015

Pinto-Gouveia, J., Carvalho, S., Palmeira, L. & Castilho, P. (2015). BEfree – An acceptance, mindfulness and compassion group programme for binge eating in obesity. 45th Annual EABCT Congress, Jerusalem, August 31st – Sep 3rd 2015

Presentations in national congresses

Pinto-Gouveia, J., Carvalho, S., Castilho, P., Costa, J. Cunha, M., Duarte, C., Duarte, J., Ferreira, C., Matos, M. & Palmeira, L. (2015). BEfree: Programa de Intervenção em Grupo para a Ingestão Alimentar Compulsiva. Symposium presented at International Congresso n Obesity and Binge Eating (ICOBE), Coimbra, 25-26 September

Pinto-Gouveia,J., Carvalho, S., Ferreira, C., Duarte, C., Matos, M., Cunha, M., Costa, J., Duarte, J., Palmeira, L. & Castilho, P. (Novembro, 2015). BEfree: Programa de intervenção focado na psicoeducação, mindfulness e compaixão para a ingestão alimentar compulsiva. III Congresso Internacional do CINEICC, Coimbra, 17-21 Novembro 2015.

Poster presentations

Palmeira, L, Carvalho, S. & Pinto-Gouveia, J. (Julho, 2015). Psychological processes in obese or overweight women with and without binge eating: an exploration of their differences. 2015 ACBS World Conference, Berlin, 15-18 July 2015

BEfree in the news