Body Image refers to the way that you personally experience your body. It includes physical appearance but also encompasses your perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Your relationship with your body is impacted by not only the way that you experience your body, but by your perceptions of how other people experience your body.
The way that you feel about your body can have a strong impact on your self-worth and on your relationships with others. Each person has a different experience in their body, so there is no one way that body image dissatisfaction will look for everyone. In my practice I work with women whose experiences with their body have been impacted by pregnancy, infertility, chronic dieting, reproductive trauma, stress, shame and life transitions. They often find themselves stuck in patterns of self-blame or self-judgement that impact their self-confidence and make it difficult to authentically engage in their relationships.
Some signals that it may to time to ask for more support include body image related isolation, feelings of self-consciousness, or if you are noticing changes in your behavior in an attempt to alter your appearance. You may also notice that you are avoiding things that bring attention to your body or remind you of how your body has changed. Research shows us that the impact of body dissatisfaction can reach beyond attempts to alter appearance impacting areas such as relationships, self-esteem, self-care, intimacy, anxiety, and depression.
When thinking about whether or not body image distress is something that impacts you, consider the following questions:
Do I avoid situations or experiences due to concerns about my appearance?
How often does my body image get in the way of my ability to enjoy my life?
Does my body image get in the way of my ability to take care of myself?
Do I find that my body image is impacting my mood or my stress level?
Do I spent more time, money, or energy that I would like on trying to “fix” my appearance?
Does the way that I feel about my body impact the way that I am eating or exercising?
Is my body image impacting the way I feel about myself?
Is my body image impacting my relationships with others?
So how can therapy help? When you are dissatisfied with your body it can be easy to focus on what you wish was different. I work with my clients to shift narratives that leave them feeling disconnected and unfulfilled so that they can begin reconnecting with their bodies and become more confident in who they are. Therapy can help you to identify the root cause of your body image distress and begin to address factors that influence the way you feel about yourself and your relationships with others.
Some topics you may explore in therapy include
Body image concerns that are impacting your relationships, self-worth, and emotional-wellbeing
Feeling frustrated or angry that you body isn’t “working” the way you want it to
Understanding the needs of your body after a difficult diagnosis, such as infertility or endometriosis
Blaming yourself or your body for difficulties conceiving or carrying a pregnancy
Body image concerns that are impacting your comfort engaging intimacy
Exploring fears about the capabilities of your body that are impacting your reproductive choices
Reconnecting with your body after fertility treatments, abortion, or surrogacy
Understanding how your body responds to intimacy, arousal, or desire
After beginning my career as a clinical therapist in a residential eating disorder treatment program, I have extensive experience in treating body image concerns and related issues such as anxiety, self-esteem, relationships, intimacy, sexuality, and eating disorders. I am passionate about helping my clients reconnect with their bodies and redefine it means to accept their bodies. It is my hope that you leave my office feeling comfortable and confident in your body! If you have concerns about your body image that you’d like to explore further, please give me a call. I would be honored to begin this journey with you.