Overcoming Body Image Issues with CBT and DBT

When you stand in the mirror and look at yourself—starting with your hair and face then moving down to your toes slowly—what thoughts cross your mind? Most people recognize parts of their body that they would like to improve. They may focus on points of appearance that they don’t particularly like. 

Self-critiquing in that manner isn’t a problem for most because they also see the beauty in their bodies. They know that they are unique and have great value regardless of what they see as faults or weaknesses in their appearances. 

This exercise is far more complicated for someone who struggles with overcoming body image issues. They focus heavily on their self-perceived flaws and struggle to see their own beauty in any way. They may see flaws that no one else recognizes or that don’t exist. Their overly critical mind tells them that they are not good enough or that their bodies are unsightly and unacceptable. 

Utilizing DBT and CBT for body image issues is like leading a starving man to a nourishing meal. Most people struggling with body image issues want to see their own beauty. They want to accept themselves. They just need help seeing through their own thought patterns and loving their bodies as they are right now. 

Why Is Body Image a Big Issue? 

Self-perceptions of the body play a critical part in self-esteem and may impact life choices. Someone who devalues themselves based on their appearance or the shape of their body may struggle in personal relationships because they don’t feel worthy of love or may shy away from attention. 

Low self-confidence driven by body insecurities may mean that a talented athlete never tries out for the elite team or a hard worker never asks for that much-deserved raise. Many life choices are made from an emotional standpoint, and body issues are extremely emotional. 

Body images may also contribute to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.  Those coexisting conditions can lead to enormous suffering and self-sabotage if the root cause isn’t discovered and treated. 

How Does CBT for Body Image Issues Work? 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of body image therapy. It rests on the basic premise that internal thoughts contribute to emotions, and then emotions lead to behaviors. If you can identify negative thinking patterns and isolate damaging internal dialogues, you can control emotions and stimulate healthy, natural behavioral change. 

Many people struggling to see the beauty in their bodies are unaware of the thoughts contributing to their self-criticisms. When applied consistently and taken seriously, CBT can replace sabotaging thoughts with positive thoughts. The result is lasting, powerful life change. 

Does DBT Help with Overcoming Body Image Issues

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a subcategory of CBT used for body image issues and many related conditions like eating disorders and depression. Embracing concepts of mindfulness, this form of body image therapy challenges negative thoughts and sheds light on emotions that often keep those with body issues trapped in self-sabotaging behaviors. 

DBT is similar to CBT and shares many of its principles, but it focuses more heavily on behavior change. CBT focuses more on changing thoughts to regulate mood and impact behavior. DBT offers a more direct approach to changing behaviors with attention to thought patterns and emotions. 

Body Image Therapy Works

DBT and CBT for body image issues have worked for many people. It offers an effective method to identify the root causes of conditions like body dysmorphia. Recognizing the impact of thought and emotion on behavior is powerful for many people struggling with a wide variety of body issues.

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