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Body Image Therapy San Diego, CA

Do you struggle with negative thoughts about your body, weight, or size?

Body image therapy can help you finally develop a positive relationship with food and your body

Do you feel that so much of your time is spent dieting, counting calories, or exercising in order to try and reach a “goal weight”? Perhaps you aren’t dieting or exercising excessively, but you just cringe every time that you look in the mirror. Do you find yourself comparing your body to others, and wishing that you looked different? Maybe you experience low self-esteem due to the way that you view your external appearance. Imagine finally feeling at peace with food and your body. If you struggle with distressing feelings related to having a negative perception of your body, then body image therapy can help.

You are not alone...

For at least the past three decades, women (and now more men as well) have been preoccupied with how they look. Unfortunately, our society tends to portray being “thin” as more desirable than other body types. Thinness has been associated with personal happiness, and diet culture romanticizes the idea that being thinner will make everything in your overall life better. It is not uncommon for individuals to experience negative body image and feel like they should look a different way.

Body Image Therapy Can Help

Body Image Therapist San Diego, CA Hand Held Out to Woman Experiencing negative body image not only affects how you view yourself on the outside, but how you view yourself on the inside as well. Our body is the vessel in which we carry ourselves through life. If every time that we look in the mirror we experience a negative thought, then it is likely to have a negative effect on our overall self-esteem. Seeing a body image therapist can help you get to the root cause of why you feel compelled to focus on food and control the way that your body looks. We can work together to help you develop clarity, process these feelings, and develop healthier coping skills. Healing from poor body image through therapy can come with many benefits, including:

What Does Therapy For Body Image Look Like?

Body Image Therapy San Diego, CA Women in Session Happy Treatment for poor body image can be incredibly effective and improve all areas of your life. In therapy, I start by providing a safe space for you to share any and all concerns that you are experiencing regarding your current body image struggles. We will explore and identify negative thought and behavioral patterns related to your body image that are persisting in your life and that are no longer serving you. We will help you uncover hidden emotions that are causing these negative thoughts and behaviors to persist, and process them fully. Then we will help you break these behavioral and thought patterns and replace them with healthier coping skills. We will take a look at your values and help you develop a plan to live fully in alignment with them – leading to more overall joy, ease, satisfaction, and confidence.

Why Book a Body Image Therapy Session with Me?

Self emBody Therapy - Sarah Lawley Chernick, LMFT Headshot - San Diego, CA 92109 I have experience working with many clients that have struggled with poor body image, and have been able to heal their relationship with food and their body. I have done this in a variety of treatment settings including residential treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, school settings, outpatient clinics, and private practice. I also have experience working with eating disorders, which can go hand-in-hand with poor body image. Experience and therapeutic approaches I use in the treatment of body image, eating disorders, disordered eating patterns include:
  • Evidence-based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and elements of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
  • Intuitive Eating principles
  • Health At Every Size (HAES) philosophy
  • Collaboration with dietitians and primary care physicians when appropriate in order to provide safe, well-rounded, and holistic treatment.
  • Experience and therapeutic skills gained as a previous Program Director at a residential eating disorder treatment facility.
  • Certified in Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)
  • Currently working towards CBT-E (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders) training completion.
In addition to my professional experience working with body image and eating disorders, years ago I recovered from an eating disorder and my own poor body image struggles. This is what inspired me to become a therapist in the first place, as I truly understand the suffering that poor body image can cause in our lives. I want to help clients recover fully and reclaim their lives – which I personally know is possible.

You CAN have a positive body image and learn to feel confident in your own skin

Contact me to schedule a 15 minute phone consultation and see if Body Image Therapy in San Diego is right for you!

My Standard Rate is $200 Per Session (50 Minutes)

As an out-of-network provider, I have partnered with Mentaya to help my clients save money on therapy. Use the out of network benefits calculator to see if you qualify for reimbursement for my services. Learn more about my rates and insurance.

You may have some questions about seeing a therapist for body image issues...

“Poor body image” refers to an unrealistic view of how someone sees their body. Oftentimes, we are our own worst critic — meaning that usually others will not view our bodies the same way that we do if poor body image is present. Body image involves the way that a person sees themselves, and is often compared to the standards set in our modern society. Unfortunately, poor body image is not uncommon today due to the unrealistic standards that diet culture praises (i.e. excessive thinness, extreme dieting to reach a certain weight, etc.). However, the extent to which poor body image affects an individual may vary. Visit Eating Disorders Hope website for more information on negative body image causes , symptoms, and signs.
Maybe you have tried to overcome negative body image on your own without therapy. You may have tried different things to help stop these constant thoughts about food and your body. Perhaps you are feeling frustrated, fed up, or unsure why you can’t just feel “normal” around food or when you look in the mirror. Receiving therapeutic help can provide you with a different perspective and new set of skills that you may not have tried yet. I can also help you discover why these behaviors started in the first place, and how to effectively work through distressing feelings related to them. There is no shame in asking for help. I consider therapy to be like a “cheat code” in life in the way that it can help us heal and recover faster than we would have been able to on our own.
As stated above, poor body image is not uncommon today due to the unrealistic beauty standards that our modern society praises. However, there are also plenty of people that do not experience poor body image, and that do feel confident and comfortable in their skin. Just because it may be common for many people to feel self-conscious about their appearance, it does not necessarily mean that it’s normal. And most importantly, it does not have to be your version of “normal”. Even if others around you are dieting and/or may not feel great about their body image, you do not have to continue to struggle; you can still receive help and decide that you would like to take the steps towards both internal and external self-confidence.
Sometimes, poor body image shows up because we are experiencing overwhelming or distressing emotions, and our mind is looking for a distraction. Since the diet industry praises individuals for thinness and alludes to the promise that “life will be much better if you are thin”, people often use dieting as something to focus on and a goal to work towards. When you are focusing on your external image all day, it may temporarily distract you from emotions within that are difficult to manage. Though this may work in the short-term, it is not a long term solution to overall happiness and increased self-esteem; not to mention that dieting can be harmful both physically and psychologically. So poor body image may be arising from deep-rooted (conscious or unconscious) emotions that you have found difficult to manage, so your mind is looking for a distraction. Negative body image can also arise merely due to the unrealistic beauty standards that our society has today, and the pressure to feel like you “should” look a certain way. It can also arise from other reasons such as disordered eating, bullying or negative comments regarding your appearance from others, and more.
If you find it difficult to look in the mirror or at a photo of yourself without being critical and experiencing low self-esteem, you may be experiencing poor body image. If these thoughts are having a negative affect on your mood, relationships, or any other aspect of your overall life – it could be worth receiving help and relief for. Negative body image can feel awful, and you don’t have to figure it out how to heal from it all on your own.
Your friends and family may not understand your desire to give up the focus on food and your body by receiving therapy. Unfortunately in our society today, dieting tendencies and focus on our body is incredibly common. Just think about it — how many people do you know that were taught that it is normal to constantly be trying to lose weight or “improve” their body? This may be common, but it is not a part of having a normal and healthy relationship with food and your body — and most importantly, it does not have to be your normal. They may not understand at first, and that is okay. Not everyone needs to understand your desire for self-improvement. If you would like to welcome your family or significant other in for a therapy session (or multiple sessions) to help them understand, that is welcomed and encouraged.

Symptoms and Eating Disorders Often Associated with Negative Body Image

Related Body Image Treatments

Eating Disorder Therapy

Sometimes individuals struggling with negative body image may also be struggling with an eating disorder. Treatment for eating disorder recovery and body image can be incredibly effective and improve all areas of your life. In eating disorder therapy, I start by providing a safe space for you to share any and all concerns that you are experiencing regarding your current struggles. Together, we will take a look at your values and help you develop a plan to live fully in alignment with them – leading to more joy, ease, satisfaction, and confidence. When treating eating disorders, I often work in a collaborative treatment team and involve other trained professionals such as primary care doctors and dietitians to provide holistic and well-rounded treatment for my clients.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that examines the relationship between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It can help you to become more aware of negative thoughts so that you can view difficult situations in a new way, and thus respond to them more effectively. Working to improve negative body image will involve taking a look at the relationship between your thoughts and emotions. CBT has substantial empirical support as an efficacious treatment in the improvement of body image difficulties.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) incorporates both cognitive behavioral strategies and mindfulness strategies. DBT can help clients increase their ability to tolerate distressing emotions, gain further strategies to reframe negative thought patterns, and implement helpful mindfulness practices into their daily lives. DBT skills are taught by the therapist and clients can utilize them in between sessions to help self-soothe and tolerate overwhelming emotions.

EMDR Therapy

In Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, you are guided by your therapist to engage in bilateral stimulation of your eye movements while imagining distressing scenarios. The act of bilateral stimulation will help your brain to fully process the distressing feelings and events, shifting your attention towards more positive thoughts and helping anxiety to dissipate. EMDR Therapy has been shown to be effective to help with a variety of mental health conditions, including body dysmorphia. EMDR therapy has also been shown to have long-lasting effects in terms of symptom reduction.

Body Image Therapy in San Diego, CA

If you’re ready to overcome your negative body image and learn more about my body image therapy services, please use the button above or call (619) 800-5393 for a free 15 minute phone consultation.

Self emBody Therapy
EMDR, Eating Disorders, Anxiety
5330 Carroll Canyon Rd Suite 120,
San Diego, CA 92121
(619) 800-5393