Psychotherapy treatment for body image issues (Chiswick Practice)
This case study has been written with express permission from the client
MP was 21 when she first came to see me at my West London practice for help with body image issues. She had always been flat chested and longed for bigger breasts. She had been to see several doctors for a breast enlargement operation on the NHS, but they believed she had deeper underlying psychological issues with her body image, diagnosing her with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). They advised she see a therapist to help her with her BDD and so she made an appointment to see me for psychotherapy treatment at my Chiswick premises.
Straight away, I noticed that MP’s image was very important to her. She wore false eyelashes, heavy make-up, a fake tan and designer clothes. She identified straight away that she felt she needed to look a certain way in order to be accepted by others, especially men who she was dating. In contrast however, she also identified that she had more male friends than female as she felt threatened by other women's looks.
Over the coming psychotherapy sessions, we began to form a close working relationship where MP felt able to open up about her worries and concerns surrounding her body image. She described how when certain television programs, films or even adverts came on the television, she had to leave the room as they portrayed larger breasted women as being beautiful, desirable and attractive. She described her paranoia that her partner would be up on the Internet all night looking at images of “more attractive” women and she even found herself worrying when they drove past newsagents in the car, in case her partner caught a glimpse of the men’s magazines on the top shelves.
As the psychotherapy sessions progressed, we began to delve deeper into her childhood and discovered that her parents had always brought “The Sun” newspaper with the large breasted page 3 girls. MP explored memories of how her father and elder brothers had leered over the images, made desirable comments about them and often left the page exposed for her to see. We spent many sessions discussing the impact of these experiences on a young child’s mind, how it affected her image of the world around her and her expectations for the future.
We went on to uncover further early memories and experiences which had influenced her view of the importance of that perfect image in relationships before beginning the process of decontamination and deconfusion which challenged these early accept beliefs, allowing MP to discover new and healthier ways of seeing herself in the world.
We worked together in psychotherapy for almost two years. A few months before the therapy came to an end, MP found herself a new boyfriend, and reported that things “felt different” this time around. She realised that she had been able to leave behind many of those old and unhealthy beliefs and enjoy what she had. She had long left behind her false eye lashes and fake tan and was much happier in her own body. She still wanted to have a breast enlargement in the future to help her feel more womanly, but now had much healthier expectations and motivations around it. MP left psychotherapy so much happier than when she began and felt much stronger and better equipped to deal with whatever life threw at her.
If you have any questions, or would like to enquire about a session, please contact us. West London Counselling, Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy Services have practices in Acton, Chiswick, South Ealing, Ealing Broadway, Fulham and Harley Street and have a catchment area of Barnes, Brentford, Chelsea, Greenford, Grove Park, Gunnersbury, Hammersmith, Hanwell, Hounslow, Isleworth, Kew, Mortlake, Park Royal, Perivale, Putney, Richmond, Shepherds Bush, Southall, Turnham Green, Twickenham, White City and any other area in West London