Navigating Negative Body Image
Written by Carly Compton, MSW Intern
Society, diet culture, and popular media do not make it easy for us to see our bodies in a positive light, especially if we do not meet their often unrealistic beauty standards. Whether you consider yourself too big, too small, too curvy, not curvy enough, too short, or too tall, it can seem virtually impossible to ever meet standards that are non-consensually imposed into our psyche. I have good news, though--there is, in fact, no need to even try to meet those beauty standards. Instead, we can collectively dismantle such standards by deciding how we want to look and what we want to feel in our bodies. While this is definitely easier said than done, I want to share some tips on how to mentally navigate encroaching negative body image thoughts and, in the process, work toward a more positive and healthy relationship with your body. Because you deserve that!
Here are four tips you can start incorporating into your life today that will get you closer to finding a place of self-love, self-acceptance, and overall positive body image:
Tip #1: Follow people on social media who make you feel good about yourself!
Social media can be an extremely toxic space for many people, but it can also be very therapeutic and refreshing, especially when you are following accounts that encourage you to accept your body as it is. Unfollow those accounts that leave you feeling down about yourself, have you comparing your body to others, and encourage you to change your body in any way before being able to see your worth. Remember, your worth is not defined by your weight or your appearance! Some of my favorite accounts to follow are Kenzie Brenna, Megan Boggs, Jaimmy Koroma, and Brynta Ponn.
Tip #2: Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable & confident!
Why is it that we feel the need to squeeze into clothes that are either too small or uncomfortable? For many, we fear having to go up in size when buying new clothes. We have been led to believe that we must always remain in the smallest size possible, even though our bodies go through natural changes and might shrink or grow many times over the course of our lives. The numbering demarcating the size of your clothes does not in any way come with attached value judgements. On the contrary, it is once you start wearing clothes that properly fit and make you comfortable that you will begin to notice a shift in confidence. Remember, we aren’t meant to change our bodies to fit certain clothes, but clothes are meant to be created to fit our bodies--no matter the size.
Tip #3: Create a list of things that you love about yourself!
Taking time to reflect on all the things you love and appreciate about your body is a great step in healing your relationship with your body. Acknowledging any negative cognitions and then working toward creating opposing positive cognitions is an effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skill that will guide you to a more confident space regarding your body. This list is one you should keep and repeatedly reference in the future. You can add to it each week, each month, or however frequently you want--find what works for you! A great guidebook I highly recommend is Megan Logan’s Self-Love Workbook for Women: Release Self-Doubt, Build Self-Compassion, and Embrace Who You Are.
Tip #4: Understand that your worth is not defined by your weight!
It can be extremely difficult to see our worth as residing outside of or not being defined by our weight or physical appearance. For so long, we have been told we are more worthy or more attractive the smaller we are, among others. While dangerously prevalent, such ideas could not be further from the truth. Our worth does not stem from our weight or our appearance in any way. In fact, our appearance is actually one of the least interesting things about us. Instead of this view which will always tend toward the pessimistic, try focusing on all the amazing things your body has done for you and continues to do for you on a daily basis, surround yourself with people who won’t comment on your body, and remember that your self-worth is defined by YOU--it is rooted within the ability to understand who you are and the potential that you posses.
I hope that these four tips are helpful in getting you started toward healing your relationship with your body and navigating negative body image. We all truly deserve a life of bodily happiness and freedom from unrealistic beauty standards.
Written by: Carly Compton, intern clinician
You can now enhance your wellness and get on the path to optimal health with our complimentary Hypnotherapy or CBT offer for our TMS Patients. The combination of TMS Therapy along with Hypnotherapy and/or CBT can help many patients break through symptoms and finally experience relief. Contact our office today to learn more about our current TMS special or call 310-571-5041
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Please join us in attending the Fall 2021 CBT Group Therapy Series with leading CBT Psychotherapy Expert Alysia St. Clair! Although it is encouraged to attend the entire series, you are welcome to drop in to just one (or more) sessions. To register, please visit the Group Calendar link. Please contact us for details if you are interested in using insurance or have questions.
CBT Group Therapy:
Week 1: The Cognitive Model & Applying the Cognitive Model
10/5/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 2: Awareness of Thoughts & Doubt Conceptualization Model
10/12/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 3: CBT for Depression: Part I
10/19/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 4: CBT for Depression: Part II
10/26/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 5: Evaluating Automatic Thoughts and Thinking Errors (Depression & Anxiety)
11/2/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 6: General CBT Strategies
11/9/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 7: CBT for Anxiety
11/16/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 8: Cognitive Interventions for Anxiety & Face your Fears!
12/21/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 9: Reframe the Expectation & Assertive Communication
12/28/21 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Week 10: Cost-Benefit Analysis (Anger, Doubt Labels, and Substance Abuse)
1/4/22 (Tues) @ 5:30pm
Featuring leading Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) psychotherapy expert,
Alysia St. Clair
Depression is a monster. It feels like it will never go away. As a clinician, the number one most dangerous part of depression is the element of hopelessness. The key however is that depression will not last forever! Depression has the effect of placing gray colored glasses over your eyes that are tricky to remove. You may pull them off for a day, week, or month, but they have a way of returning.
We have many interventions (CBT, EMDR, DBT, TMS, Ketamine, medications, etc.). Within these interventions are what I call “micro-interventions” - how do we actually practice these? What are the steps that we take?
On an interventional level, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the gold standard first line treatment for depression. Often though, there is residual depression, or it may not work 100% (oftentimes I see it as a huge help but not always a permanent cure). For any lingering depression or CBT-resistant depression, my next favorite is to go to EMDR for Depression. This targets deep inner core beliefs, similar to CBT, but using full-scope body, emotional, memory, and logical processing with the goal of engaging the two hemispheres of the brain and four main areas that regulate emotion. EMDR is most effective when paired with TMS, which helps “wake up” parts of the brain that “go to sleep” during depression. TMS also appears to help individuals in EMDR connect more with memories and emotions that we are trying to activate. TMS and EMDR are generally covered by insurance in the treatment for depression, which helps alleviate the financial burden. Medications for depression can be helpful, but can oftentimes facilitate the spiral of hopelessness when they do not work (which is very common).
A few of my favorite micro-interventions within CBT and DBT:
Purposefully seeing the positive. We walk, we eat, we sleep. Do we stop to smell the roses? Actually no! That is a purposeful activity that can help alleviate depressive symptoms. I often give my clients the activity to stop on a walk, notice the vibrant green in the leaves of a tree, notice the flickering in the wind, notice the strains of lighter green within the leaf, feel the crispness that it carries, see the shine, etc. You must do this for a minimum of 15-seconds for your brain to program and convert short-term memory to long-term memory. Seeing the beauty and intentionally focusing on it for enough time to input more positive programming to your long-term memory essentially tricks your brain into having a more positive outlook and more positive material overall. Another great example - drinking your favorite beverage. Instead of gulping it down, take 15-seconds to purposefully engage with the positive of it (spend time smelling, noticing the pleasant warmth or cool from the cup on your hand, noticing the flavor on different parts of your tongue, etc.). Draw it out for a minimum of 15-seconds!
Benefit finding. Taking the negative events and experiences that have occurred and shaping them into a positive, somehow, however you can (even if it takes being really creative)! What did you learn? How did you grow? As my mother used to say, “every lesson costs.” Education is not free. Leaving my precious earrings at the hotel taught me to check more thoroughly and made me realize how much I value gold jewelry and the sentiment they carried. Does that make it easy? No! Can it help reframe the event to make it not quite as awful? Maybe. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, our neurons are being programmed to see the positive which is the opposite of the natural reaction. This creates a chain reaction cascade of events to help other events be seen in a more positive light, even when you’re not trying. Practice is key!
Talk back. Talk back to negative or demeaning thoughts! That little voice in yourself that tells you that you aren’t good enough, tell it no! “I am good enough!” If you don’t believe it, keep trying. If you still don’t believe it, scale it down and start with something smaller. Instead of “I am good enough,” use something that you can believe more - perhaps “I am good enough for some people.” Talk back to that demeaning voice with this until you believe it (or at least partially believe it). The goal is to override this negative voice naturally, which will occur with enough practice.
Use mantras. “I am doing the best that I can” is a favorite of mine (credit to my mentor Jen Vachet, LMFT). You may not believe it initially, but given the circumstances of your upbringing and environment - you are doing the best you can! We all are doing the best we can with the resources that we have. Life is hard. We are not perfect. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves. Another favorite, “You’ve got this!” Maybe you really feel like you don’t have this! The point is to put a voice inside your head, believable or not, telling you that you do so that you have personal encouragement guiding you! If it helps, give the voice to a mentor, friend, or family member.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The past 18 months of adapting to “the new normal” of COVID-19 regulations has been difficult. The single greatest predictor of suicide is hopelessness. With endless strains of COVID emerging, it can feel very hopeless! During this September suicide awareness, we must remember that now is not forever. Though things may feel like they will never end (including mood states), we must remember that this will pass. Whether it’s recent loss, general depression or anxiety, relationship fallouts, or life adjustments, one thing is certain - things WILL CHANGE.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, I promise that you are not alone. Please reach out for help and support. Text NAMI to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to be connected to a listening ear - 24 hours a day. If in Los Angeles County, you can call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health ACCESS Resource and Referral line at (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741 for information and referrals.
Please do not hesitate to reach out for help. You are not alone and this will not last forever, no matter how much it feels like it. It is the greatest trick of depression - current feels permanent, but it is not! Gray colored glasses may be stuck on, but they can come off and the world can once again be a good place.
What if it is ongoing? What if I am not getting better? The number one thing is to not lose hope. You will! We have so many treatments today. If one doesn’t work, there are a hundred more to try! It is not an instant process, but YOU WILL GET BETTER. For more information on treatment for ongoing depression, visit the General Treatment for Depression article.
Coronavirus 19 has brought so much hardship through our entire world. One particular thing that has been challenging due to this pandemic has been the inability to have daily human interactions. Many find themselves now questioning how they will interact with others after over a year of limited social interactions. I am here to say that you are not alone in feeling this way. For over a year, we have been subjected to being indoors during times that we may have been surrounded by other individuals. Limited social interactions can lead to feeling alone and trying to figure out how to deal with issues we may have discussed with others. What you may have also experienced is grief. Grief doesn’t have to mean the passing of an individual but the loss of something significant. We experienced grief when our world changed to something we have never experienced before but with grief comes healing and I am here to help with that.
One way to begin breaking the cycle that we have created is to implement small social interactions. This can start through calling a friend. Practicing having small talk at the comfort of your own home. Once you begin to feel comfortable, you can move to scheduling a video chat call. This will encourage normalizing daily interactions. Just remember, we all have been in this hectic time and are curious how to get back to our normal interactions. But just like any skills you may have had to put aside for a while, with a little practice, it will start to feel normal again. You are not alone, we are here for you.
Briana Barrera, ACSW
Seeking help can be hard for many including myself. Many individuals have thoughts like "I should be able to handle this" … "this is embarrassing why can't I get over it?" … "people will think I am weak." Preventing them from seeking the help they need or waiting until it is so bad they become hospitalized. Being a professional helper adds to the stigma because of the thought that "I should be able to fix myself." While there is a stigma associated with mental illness, seeking help is stigmatized far too much in our society. The fear of being judged is probably the number one factor why people do not seek therapy. The truth is people choose to suffer from psychological problems despite professional help be readily available.
I am writing this to address public and self-stigma with seeking professional help. I want to assure you that everyone goes through rough times and it is okay! I want to empower the person reading this to look at therapy as a place to release the negative feelings and emotions and receive care, encouragement, understanding, reasoning, and knowledge. Therapy is tailored to you; you are the driver, and the therapist is just helping with the directions. Just think if you take a chance at therapy and you find relief who cares what others think, you feel better. It takes courage to ask for help, so I encourage you to take a chance.
Author: Alysia St. Clair
Ever since the year 2020 started, there had been a lot of fatal news spreading across the world. None of us anticipated how the 2020 would come about, but we remain steadfast in order to survive the year.
The fast approach of the holiday season last year was by far the most anticipated one. It was considered to be unique, heartfelt, and unforgettable. It was the best time to get together with our closest relatives, family, and friends. Without a doubt, last year’s Christmas celebration did challenge our daily means of coping with our inner battles.
So, I’ve listed four ways to maintain your mental health during the holidays and still get on with life everyday.
Telehealth? Teletherapy? Is this really a thing? Yes! Tele-therapy has become a recent primary form of communication between therapists and clients since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Online counseling now dominates a majority of psychotherapy services and for good reason! With recent quarantine laws, a host of new psychiatric conditions are on the rise. Alcohol use and alcoholism has seen a major uptick with individuals stuck at home. Trends of Seasonal Affective Disorder, something commonly only seen in winter months, appears to be on the rise as people stay inside in isolation. COVID-induced psychosis and social anxiety disorder has been on the rise due to the heightened stress levels that trigger distorted thinking. Anxiety and depression have seen steep spikes since the Coronavirus pandemic began. As a therapist, I often hear clients express fear about mask usage and clients ask, “Does wearing a mask help?” I have heard themes of hopelessness from numerous clients who feel that their fear and anxiety will never return to pre-COVID levels.
Online therapy is an incredible tool in which numerous HIPAA compliant platforms can be used (e.g., doxy.me, zoom, etc.). Various modalities can be done online including online relationship counseling, couples therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and insurance covers online therapy just as it does in-office!
Clients often have low-expectations when beginning online therapy and feel concerned that the client-therapist connection will not be the same. I have found that many clients end up preferring online counseling since they can attend appointments with simplicity without having to leave home. Some clients have even reported that they find it easier to open up about difficult topics to someone on a computer screen versus a live human directly in front of them.
If you have not tried it, give it a go! Many therapists are now offering this unique therapeutic setting and it is certainly worth taking advantage of the self-growth opportunity!
A scam is happening now that targets therapists, social workers, psychologists, and mental health professionals. A highly strategic and organized group of scammers have identified therapists and other medical professionals to inform them that they were subpoenaed, missed their court date, and now have two or more active bench warrants issued by a judge - one for contempt of court and one for failure to appear. They inform you that you are on a recorded line and that two uniformed deputies served you a subpoena and someone signed your name on the subpoena. When you tell them that you didn't, they persist that they will investigate but that they must follow orders by the judge. They cite that they cannot release details about the case since it is privileged information. These scammers inform the individual that both bench warrants are Class C Misdemeanor warrants which will cause law enforcement to take you into custody if you come across any of them.
This scam is a multi-day scam often in which they slowly built the intensity over a series of days. After the first day or two, they tell you that they are going to look closer into it and investigate further. With each day that they call you back, the situation escalates. Eventually they tell you that you now have an order from the judge called a "MAINTAIN CONTACT ORDER" (MCO) in which they will need to maintain contact with you at all times until you get to the sheriff's station to verify your signature. If you violate the MCO by hanging up the phone, they will bypass the civil process and turn it over to a criminal investigation. They urge you that you do not want to go through the criminal proceedings with handcuffs because you may not be able to get the warrants expunged.
They then inform you that you may be subject to the Mobile Monitoring System by the United States (U.S.) Marshall's in which they will obtain a warrant to track your precise GPS location if you do not follow the guidelines of the "maintain contact order."
It gets worse - they then inform you that they are verbally serving a "gag order" and "suppression order" in which you are not to discuss the details of this case with anyone since you now have privileged information pertaining to the case. They may make comments such as, "the judge was very upset since a minor had to take the stand and will now need to take the stand again since you failed to appear." They urge you to get to the Sheriff's Department as soon as possible to complete a signature verification so they may begin the dismissal process.
If you ask about obtaining an attorney, they tell you "If you contact legal counsel, you forfeit your right to undergo the civil process and it must then be taken into the criminal proceedings in which these charges may not fully expunge from your record." In this case, you may also inadvertently "forfeit your right to a fast and speedy trial" since your case will no longer be on the civil track.
If you ask about the legibility of the forged signature and why they didn't check your ID, they'll say "It's chicken scratch" and "we are absolutely going to launch an investigation into these two uniformed officers who served this subpoena and I will make sure that they are investigated by the Internal Affairs Division for reprimand, suspension, or forced to fired."
When you ask to consult with your family members, they remind you that you are under a "suppression order" in which you may be held liable for anything you say... and they further remind you that you are on a recorded line.
They then encourage you to go to the police station with two forms of identification as soon as possible to get the signature analysis and verification. En route to the police station, they request you to stop at a licensed retail store to purchase a "registered enforcement voucher" in which "only government officials can deposit it." They instruct you to bring that to the police station to post your "surety bond." The bond costs approx. $5000 plus a $50 bail fee. They offer a waiver for whatever amount you cannot post. They instruct you to enter the Sheriff's station and approach the "front kiosk linked to the NCID database." They instruct, "do not speak to any uniformed officers in the process because they may take you into custody because of your warrants." You are then instructed to enter a pin code for bond placement.
The more questions you ask, the more they say, "I can tell you haven't been in trouble before. We usually deal with criminals who know all about this. Don't worry. I will walk you through step by step of the process."
At some point here, the money comes in. If you are lucky, you will not get to this point. The trick about this scam is that they continually urge you to go to the police station for signature analysis. At some point en route, the money component is involved to "pull bail" and they instruct you to send gift cards to the "Dept. of Treasury" and have you scratch the numbers off the back and read it to them to "verify validity." Luckily, most of us stop when we hear this. But the continuous urge to go to the police station and comply with the legal orders can be very tricky to deal with.
In my case, my primary investigator was "Lieutenant Alex Stephens" who provided his office phone number (Orange County Sheriff's at 714-647-7000) and direct number (714-760-9055) which turns out to be an Orange County professional escort phone number. The other deputy was Lt. Mason who implemented the "gag order" and "suppression order." Both Lt. Alex Stephens and Lt. Mason called each time from the O.C. Sheriff's Dept. main line; obviously using a program to do this.
Please watch out! These guys are everywhere. They evolve to get more and more complex, even for those who would never suspect a scam.