Negative self-image is one of the most common mental health concerns affecting people of all ages. If you struggle with bad body image, you might feel deeply uncomfortable in your own skin. You may constantly stress about your weight, your height, your facial features, or any other perceived flaw that your mind decides to fixate on. These worries can consume your thoughts and prevent you from loving yourself and finding peace.
It’s not easy to overcome body image issues, especially if they’ve persisted for a long time, but therapy is your best resource. Therapy for body image issues offers you a space to understand why your self-image is suffering and to learn how to release these negative beliefs. Self-love and self-confidence are lifelong journeys, and therapy is a great first step.
Here Are Five Ways That Therapy Can Help You Overcome Body Image Issues
1. Identify the specific issues.
Body image issues sometimes occur in the form of one specific, recurring thought. In other cases, though, they may be more inconsistent or confusing. Some people feel terrible about their body but don’t understand exactly what they dislike. It’s also common to have days where you feel very comfortable in your skin followed by days where you feel extremely upset.
Before you can address the problem and adjust your way of thinking, you have to understand what exactly is going on in your mind. Once you have a clear idea of the specific issues you’re facing, you’ll find it much easier to take control of them. During therapy, your counselor will listen to your experiences and ask follow-up questions to help you gain a better understanding of your thought processes. They may even give you “homework” to keep track of your thoughts and emotions as they occur.
2. Understand the root cause of the issue.
Body image issues rarely occur for no reason. At first, you might believe that you’re uncomfortable with a part of your body simply because it looks bad or doesn’t feel right. However, there’s almost always a deeper underlying cause of bad body image.
Sometimes, body image issues are closely linked to an eating disorder. In this case, addressing and healing from your eating disorder with therapy is essential for your overall mental health and wellness. Gender dysphoria is another common cause of body image issues, and your therapist can help you explore how your gender identity affects your self-image.
Childhood trauma can contribute to bad body image as well. Bullying, childhood neglect, and abuse can all lead to complex mental health problems later in life, and it’s not uncommon for survivors of childhood trauma to have body image issues. Processing this trauma in therapy can be a powerful step toward healing. Not only will it help you overcome body image issues, but it could provide the answers you’ve been looking for in other areas of your life.
3. Express yourself in a private and safe environment.
One of the key reasons why therapy is so vital for body image issues is that it’s a safe, confidential space. Body image concerns are incredibly personal, and opening up about your struggles can be an intensely vulnerable experience. You might not feel comfortable discussing your mental or emotional health with a friend or family member. Even if they’re nothing but supportive, you might worry that they’ll treat you differently after you disclose what you’re going through.
Therapy is a completely private environment, and your therapist is a professional, unbiased figure. Your therapist should be a warm and empathetic person, and you should feel comfortable working with them. However, you also know that your therapist is a professional who is engaging in their job when working with you. Everything you mention in the therapy session will remain there, and you never have to worry that your counselor will judge or condemn you.
4. Challenge your negative beliefs.
Therapy helps you address your body image issues by peeling back your negative beliefs layer by layer. Our thoughts can be habitual, and once you get in the habit of thinking something negative about your body, that idea can repeat itself in your mind until it overwhelms you.
However, these negative thoughts are almost always based on flawed reasoning. As you start to explore your beliefs in therapy, you and your therapist will unpack the illogical, unhelpful, or harmful thoughts that are causing your distress. This process can help to remove the power that your negative self-image has over you.
5. Invite more joy and positivity into your life.
As therapy helps you break free from the negative beliefs that have driven your body image issues, your therapist will work with you to find ways to increase your joy and positivity. Your first goal in therapy may be to understand, unpack, and dismiss the negative thoughts about your body so that you have a truly neutral self-image. Once you’re free from the harmful thoughts, though, you get to enhance your life by developing actively happy and helpful beliefs about yourself.
Remembering all the things you love about your body, your personality, and your life as a whole can improve your confidence and weaken any self-critical thoughts that enter your mind. It’s often easier to list what you dislike about yourself than to think of what you like about yourself, but therapy offers a chance to explore your strengths. Your therapist will encourage you to celebrate your successes and focus on all of the unique positive qualities you bring to the table.
Therapy is an excellent opportunity to gain self-awareness and learn how to relate more positively to your body. You might feel like your bad self-image is inescapable, but it is absolutely possible to adjust your way of thinking and develop more confidence. The Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides therapy for body image issues as well as many other mental health concerns. You can contact us today to learn more about our practice or to schedule a meeting with a therapist in Los Angeles.