Body Image Issues
Body image is a fascinating aspect of the self. People often have multiple body images and there will be times when we feel okay about our bodies, and times when we do not feel so good.
Our body image is the mental picture we have ourselves. Our body image is influenced by many different factors. These factors include:
- Social or interpersonal messages about our bodies. These messages might have been received from family and close friends, Teasing about our bodies, or parts of bodies can be an important influence to how we later see our body in later life. Also watching parents and siblings body behaviours (e.g., dieting, exercise, gym use) can also have an impact on our perception of our bodies.
- Cultural messages – For example how our body, or certain aspects of our body “should” look or be. These cultural messages can be from media or the society as whole.
- Personality – An individual’s personality can influence their body image/s. For example, low self-esteem or confidence.
Our body image can also be conceived by:
- The way you see or picture yourself
- The perception of how others think about your body
- The beliefs about your physical appearance
- Your feelings feel about your body
- Your thoughts about your body
- How you feel in your body
Another way to look at your body image is through four aspects:
- Perceptual – how you perceive your body;
- Affective – how you feel about your body;
- Cognitive – Thoughts and beliefs about your body; and
- Behavioural – How you behave in relation to your body.
Our body image can influence our wellbeing and behaviours. If we feel good about our bodies we often feel good about ourselves overall and have good self-esteem and confidence. If we feel bad about an aspect of our body this can lead us to feel less confident in some situations.
For some people, their negative perceptions of their body can have significant impact on their mental wellbeing and they may experience Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness where an individual perceives they have a serious flaw or flaws with their body. A person who has BDD will obsess about the flaw and spend time trying to hide, camouflage, checking themselves in the mirror and other body monitoring and body change behaviours. These behaviours impact on the individual’s ability to function in their daily life and can affect their personal, social and even work life.
What Happens in Body Image Counselling & Psychotherapy?
When you attend for body image counselling you will develop a full understanding of your body image/s. You will explore the underlying issues which have contributed to your beliefs and ideas about your body with time spent on developing an understanding of how these “body messages” have impacted on you.
In body image counselling solution-focused and cogntive-behavioural therapy will be used to assist you to develop a healthier view of your body and to challenge your body beliefs. I also draw on creative therapies (including art, photographic and phototherapy) to assist you in exploring body image issues.
What Benefits or Outcomes can I Expect from Body Image Counselling?
Through counselling and/or therapy for body image issues, you may achieve:
- An understanding of cultural and interpersonal messages about bodies, especially your body;
- An understanding of the impact body beliefs on your life;
- Triggers for body image emotions, body-challenging thoughts and body behaviours;
- Tools for managing body-challenging thoughts; and
- New healthy body behaviours.