When someone cannot seem to stop agonizing or obsessing about defects or flaws with their body, it causes an overwhelming feeling of shame and anxiety that leads them to avoid social situations. In many cases, they will obsess over their appearance and body image by repeatedly checking the mirror, grooming for hours a day, or consistently seeking reassurance from others about how they look. They will regularly compare themselves to others, envy a friend or celebrity’s body type, and think negative thoughts when it comes to how they look or behave.
This type of behavior is referred to as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which can cause significant distress that will impact both physical and emotional health. In severe cases, people may undergo numerous cosmetic procedures to try to “fix” the problem, only to realize this is just a temporary solution.
A more permanent solution is to seek professional help, because the problem will not go away by itself. While in therapy, clients who struggle with body image will learn how their perception of how attractive, healthy, or acceptable they are to others began as a young child. If their body image seemed distorted at a young age, traits of perfectionism and self-criticism will influence how they internalize body image and suppress certain feelings. Therapy can be difficult, but soon clients realize how to recognize and analyze irrational thoughts and feelings, and become more comfortable with how they feel. In the end, clients report feeling more appreciative of their body and respect themselves enough to not fall back into unhealthy behaviors.
If you'd like to talk to someone about body image, please contact us.
Michaela Bucchianeri, PhD, LP
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver
I love this question because I believe it possesses a sort of magical property. In an instant, it shakes loose all the constraints and assumptions about how things must be, and invites you to pause and consider how they might be.
What might your life be like if you weren't consumed with fear, worry, or shame?
What might your life be like if your time and energy were available for the people and interests that truly lit you up?
What might your life be like tomorrow if you took one small (but bold) step today?
Questions like this create a sense of urgency. They stir up emotion. They spark action.
Therapy isn’t so different. If you’re living with anxiety or body image and eating concerns, know this: Those sensitivities and insecurities that keep you feeling stuck? They’re strengths and resilience in disguise. When your energy is finally freed up to use how you wish, there will be no stopping you.
Therapy works best when the latest, tested tools are shared between a client ready for change and a therapist who knows and understands what that feels like.
It’s a bit like walking the Myers-Briggs line between Thinking and Feeling. And you’re not walking alone.
Thoughts + feelings.
Brain + heart.
They don’t always agree. So, if right now both are telling you to take the next step, it might be time to listen.Education:
- PhD in Clinical Psychology, University of Notre Dame
- Postdoctoral residency in Eating Disorder Treatment, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
- Postdoctoral fellowships in Eating Disorders Research & Child/Adolescent Primary Care, University of Minnesota
Clinical experience in hospital, community mental health, and university counseling settingsSpecialties:
- Body image/weight concerns
- Career changes/discernment
- Chronic pain
- Disordered eating assessment/referral
- Emotional eating/binge-eating
- Health behavior change
- Life transitions
- Postpartum anxiety/adjustment
- Self-care/stress management
- Work-life harmony