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Take a Look at Yourself:Building Up a Positive Body Image and Training Self-Compassion in Front of the Mirror

by Yvonne Reusch


A negative body image is quite common in clients with eating disorders and in most cases a challenging matter in therapy. Furthermore there is a strong connection between negative body image and internalized negative self-concepts, which results in body image being an often underestimated prognostic factor not only in the treatment of eating but also many other mental and somatic disorders. Looking in the mirror can for clients with a negative body image be very triggering, sometimes immediately activating their punitive parent mode. Disempowering this „punitive inner voice“ and building up a compassionate attitude towards oneself and one's own body is the aim of the treatment approach presented in this skill class. The approach combines exposure as a classic CBT technique with chair work in front of the mirror to deepen the connection between therapist and client’s healthy modes.

Target Audience:


Learning Objective:

- Deepening theoretical background: Participants will get a brief overview of the concept of body image disturbance and its influence on the development of the healthy adult mode in Schema Therapy.
- Extending technical skills: By video demonstration participants will get a step by step guideline on how to use chair work in front of the mirror to develop a positive body image and positive body experience and thus to the development of self-acceptance and self-love in Schema Therapy.

Level of Experience Required:

Intermediate (Participants have had basic ST training)

The Inner House approach integrates mode and schema work using three levels or floors.The mode level is the top floor of the Inner House. It represents conscious experiencing and behavior in the here-and-now. 

The main modes are represented here by symbols (e.g., finger puppets, mode cards). The next level is the experience level. In this space under the mode level, typical experiences from the past can be restaged. Here figures stand for people who were present in the original scene (e.g., mother, father, siblings, peers, teacher). The goal of the experience level is to provide biographical context to modes. 

To understand how the restaged experience is connected to a specific mode, it is helpful to create the third level.  On this lowest level, the therapist can "re-play" a new ending to the story (instead of "re-writing"). This enables the patient to feel the difference, creating an emotionally corrective and interactive, playfully-induced experience. The contrast between the historical experience and what the patient deserved allows them to understand the roots of maladaptive schemas emotionally, and also to disempower the dysfunctional coping modes that perpetuates them.

About the Presenter:

Yvonne Reusch:

coming soon

Why Schema Therapy?

Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

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