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Body Movement and Body Image Work


The body can be used as a resource for deepening the therapy, self-expression, ... Negative body image is not really about our culture and media. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Body Movement and Body Image Work

Body Movement and Body Image Work
  • Amy Kayda, MA, DTR, LPC
  • Deanna James, MA, DTR, LPC

  • Connection is essential to the recovery process.
  • The body can be used as a resource for deepening
    the therapy, self-expression, and emotional
  • Body centered therapies can be used to deepen the
    IFS process, including connection to self energy.
  • Trauma is held in the body and thus the body, and
    its memories / sensations must be addressed and
    expressed for healing to take place.
  • Negative body image is not really about our
    culture and media. Our culture reinforces
    negative body image and disembodiment, it does
    not create it.

Why is Body Movement Body Image work essential?
  • Due to painful or traumatic experiences it is
    difficult for clients to connect to the body in a
    safe and effective way.
  • Eating disorder symptoms further serve to
    disconnect one from their bodily felt sensations
    and emotions.
  • In eating disorder recovery, it is essential that
    there is a mind/body connection.
  • Many clients struggle with distorted body image
    which causes anxiety, exacerbation of the ED, and
    disruption of self image and thus relationships.
  • In order to achieve full acceptance of self,
    clients must learn to accept their body and the
    emotions that are held in the body.

Why is Body Work Essential?
  • In eating disorders clients view the body as a
    billboard HELP! See how much pain I am in!
  • Our goal is to help clients view the body as
    their home.
  • Client often view their body as a condemned home,
    one that is not safe for habitation.

Philosophy of Treatment
  • At Castlewood, we encourage an exploration of the
    mind/body connection in order to assist those
    struggling with eating disorders to begin to
    forge a new relationship with their bodies, one
    that is compassionate, accepting and kind.

Philosophy of Treatment
  • One of the core concepts of the Internal Family
    Systems model is that parts are held in and
    around the body. It is our belief that in order
    to understand parts and their functions with
    compassion and acceptance, clients must learn to
    connect to the body that is the container for
    these parts.

Philosophy of Treatment
  • In order for clients to truly engage in the
    recovery process, it is essential to incorporate
    healthy and safe ways to connect to the body.
  • An essential component of the healing process is
    to integrate cognitive and somatic insights.
  • We use body work to deepen the cognitive process,
    as well as to express feelings and sensations
    trapped in the body as a result of trauma.

What is Body Movement Therapy?
  • Based on the assumption that the body and mind
    are interrelated, body movement therapy is
    defined as the psychotherapeutic use of movement
    to further the emotional, cognitive, physical,
    and social integration of the individual. The
    dance/movement therapist focuses on movement
    behavior as it emerges in the therapeutic
    relationship. Expressive, communicative, and
    adaptive behaviors are all considered for both
    group and individual treatment. Body movement as
    the core component of dance simultaneously
    provides the means of assessment and the mode of
    intervention for dance/movement therapy. American
    Dance Therapy Association

What is Body Image?
  • Body image is comprised of how one sees their
    body, lives in and experiences their body and
    perceives how others see their body.
  • Negative body image can serve a protective
    function to distract clients from painful
    feelings or emotions held in the body.

Goals of Body Movement and Body Image Work
  • Connection to the body in a safe manner.
  • Increased ability to be present in the hear and
    now. (Mindfulness)
  • Safe and healthy expression through the body
  • Increased ability to utilize self soothing and
    affect regulation skills
  • Connection to and acceptance of all parts
  • Connection to sense of Self

Connection to the Body in a Safe Manner
  • Why connect?
  • We experience feelings in our bodies. Part of
    recovery is being able to distinguish and label
    whats going on inside so that we can respond
  • We cannot like or appreciate something we are not
    connected to.
  • Many clients experience extreme body image
    distortion. Through connection and exploration of
    the body a more accurate perception can unfold.
  • Many clients experience psychosomatic symptoms.
    Connection can help alleviate some of these

Connection to the Body in a Safe Manner
  • Why connect?
  • As a result of trauma, many clients disconnect
    from internal emotional cues, as well as internal
    body sensations. Clients often re-enact trauma
    and feelings associated with trauma onto the body
    through their ED, self-injury, critical
    self-talk, etc.
  • Clients may ignore or dissociate from their
    natural early warning signs of danger. This
    disconnection can result in clients putting
    themselves in dangerous situations, or seeking
    out danger/perpetrators.
  • It is essential to re-connect clients with their
    bodys emotional cues and warning signs of
    danger, not only to help them make safe choices
    but also to help them gain insight into trauma
    re-enactment dynamics.

Increased Ability to be Present in the Here and
  • The here and now focus provides not only an
    invaluable source of information for each
    patient, but also a safe arena in which patients
    may experiment with new types of behavior. Irvin
    D. Yallom, Inpatient Group Psychotherapy pg 175.

Safe and Healthy Expression Through the Body
  • Clients often view the body as something they
    have to carry around with them. A number on a
    scale, the thing that keeps them from being
    happy, the thing that makes them different, etc.
  • Helping clients to see their body as a vehicle
    for healthy expression can change their
    perception of their body.

Safe and Healthy Expression Through the Body
  • Often in trauma, clients view the body as another
    thing that betrayed them. By using the body to
    express feelings, clients may begin to see it as
    an ally.
  • Through the use of ED and other self-harm
    behaviors the body becomes an object. The goal is
    to help clients see their body as part of
  • The eating disorder functions as a way to express
    to others the pain and overwhelming feelings held
    in the body. Clients can learn to express these
    feelings in a healthy way.

Increased ability to utilize self soothing and
affect regulation skills
  • The eating disorder functions as a self
    regulatory mechanism. As part of the recovery
    process clients must learn to manage internal
    distress in safe and healthy ways.

Connection to and acceptance of all parts
Connection to sense of Self
  • The non-extreme intention of each part is
    something positive for the individual. There are
    no bad parts and the goal of therapy is not to
    eliminate parts but instead to help them find
    their non-extreme role.
  • Self is the core, or center of the person. When
    differentiated it acts as the active
    compassionate leader.

Possible Interventions
  • Write or create artwork about your relationship
    with your body (past and present). Include
    significant life events, messages you received
    about your body, (positive and negative),
    memories, feelings about femininity/masculinity,
    sexuality, etc. You can also include actual
    photos of yourself.

Possible Interventions
  • Use the following prompts to create images When
    I look in the mirror I see… When my eating
    disorder looks in the mirror it wants my body to
    be…When I nourish and take care of my body
    appropriately it naturally appears…I think others
    sees my body…

Possible Interventions
  • Nature walks that incorporate the following
    reflection on surroundings, pausing to take deep
    breaths or simply notice the movement of the
    breath in the body, moving the body in any way
    that feels refreshing and releases tension,
    silent mindful walking mediation alone or in
    groups/pairs, choosing an object in nature that
    represents how a client feels currently about
    their body and how they would like to feel in the

Possible Interventions
  • Write a letter to your body and have your body
    write back. You may also write a letter of
    apology to your body for hurting it in the ways
    that others have hurt you.
  • -Make a list of all the functions of your body.
    What does your body do for you? (Example my
    eyes allow me see beautiful sunsets, my arms
    allow me to hold my nephew, my ears allow me to
    hear my favorite band on the radio, etc)

Possible Interventions
  • Guided imagery and mindfulness activity (5-10
    minutes) focused on what a client is experiencing
    in the moment internally with focus on body
    sensations, here and now, mental noting of
    thought and feelings with a non-judgmental
    stance, counting breaths (1-5) or labeling the
    inhale and exhale. Client can keep eyes open or
    closed based on comfort. You can expand on this
    by having client draw an image of the experience
    and then bring the image to life in movement or

Possible Interventions
  • Movement timeline Ask the client to express in
    movement her journey through eating disorder
    recovery. Identify, embody and move through
    stuck points.
  • -Spontaneous, creative play, (clapping game/hands
    on floor), popular group dances, piling pillows
    and jumping into the them, punching pillows,
    adding sound, asking clients to bring in their
    favorite music, all can help clients feel more at
    ease and joyful in their bodies.

Possible Interventions
  • Body tracing
  • Speak to the client about the objective of the
    tracing. The goal is to help her understand the
    underlying Feelings, Associations and Thoughts
    (F. A.T.) that contribute to body-image and
    self-image. Inform her that the tracing is
    going to be imperfect because there is human
    error. Clothing, crinkles in the paper, etc.
    influence the outcome. Bodies are three
    dimensional and this is a two dimensional image,
    so it has inherent limitations. Be sure that the
    client feels safe and is grounded before you
    attempt the tracing.
  • Get a large roll of paper. Tracings can be done
    either lying down or standing against the wall,
    with the paper taped to the wall.
  • Trace the client. Be sure to check-in throughout
    to see if the client feels safe and is
    comfortable. Remind her that she can stop at any
    point whatsoever.

Possible Interventions
  • Process the tracing in the following way
  • Ask the client to write a response to the tracing
    using stream of consciousness.
  • Ask the client to use artwork, photos, colors,
    shapes and words to fill in the tracing using the
    Feelings, Associations and Thoughts (F.A.T.)
    guidelines. Include memories, experiences,
    trauma, messages received and/or internalized
    about the body or body parts. Encourage
    authenticity and honesty.
  • Ask the client to share the image in session
    and/or group.
  • Ask the client to create either an additional
    image either on another piece of paper or on the
    back of the first image or one can add things
    directly on the first image. The theme of this
    image is What does this body (the initial
    tracing) need now? Encourage the client to
    reflect on the 8 Cs of IFS therapy.
  • Ask the client to process the entire experience.
    Be sure to include current bodily-felt sensations
    as you process the imagery.

Possible Interventions
  • Group Unburdening- Create a fire in the middle
    of the room. Have clients put feelings, memories
    represented by pillows or other objects in the
    middle of the room. Have clients share what they
    are placing in the fire. Put the fire out by
    placing blanket over the pile of pillows. Have
    clients then take positive qualities out of
    water to replace what they just gave up.
  • Group Sculptures/exploration of qualities of
    self- Have clients explore the various qualities
    of self through movement, group sculptures,
  • Moving in self and various parts(separating from
    parts)- Have clients move from pillow to pillow
    or chair to chair exploring what various parts
    (feeling states) feel like in their body. Have
    one pillow or chair represent the qualities of
    self. Explore how the body feels different
    between self and parts.

How do we invite our body and the clients body
into the therapeutic process?
  • Maintain an awareness of your own body in
    sessions and groups. Attend to what you are
    experiencing in your body. Examples
    (tightness, heaviness or warmth in the chest,
    sleepiness, butterflies in the stomach,
    headaches, tingling, numbness or pain in body
    parts, dizziness, excitement, agitation,
    calmness, etc). Somatic counter-transference
    provides valuable information and assists with

How do we invite our body and the clients body
into the therapeutic process?
  • In order to be more fully embodied, carefully
    attend to non-verbal communication (body posture,
    breathing, tone of voice, facial expression, skin
    tone changes, gestures and overall physical
    presence in the room). If a client shifts her
    posture or takes a deep breath, gently mirror the
    behavior yourself, and/or simply verbalize what
    you notice. Mirroring is one of the most
    fundamental and powerful therapeutic
    interventions. Non-verbal mirroring techniques
    are simple and effective incorporating them can
    greatly deepen the therapeutic process and
    invites the body into the space.

How do we invite our body and the clients body
into the therapeutic process?
  • Ask regularly about what clients are experiencing
    in their body during therapy. This integrates
    mind/body and dismantles the familiar talking
    head syndrome, in which clients are cognitively
    and intellectually insightful but completely
    disconnected from their body. The eating
    disorder lives in the body. The only way out is
    through the body.

How do we invite our body and the clients body
into the therapeutic process?
  • Encourage simple and mindful ways to be embodied
    such as connection with nature, balanced and fun
    movement, yoga, dance, martial arts, connecting
    to the senses by lighting a candle, applying
    lotion, listening to music, receiving a massage
    or manicure/pedicure, relaxing in the hammock.
    Ask regularly if your clients are engaged in some
    activity that connects their mind and body in a
    gentle, kind way.