Body Acceptance, Art Therapy and You

Amidst the cultural shift toward body positivity, a new standard emerges—body acceptance—but what is it and how do we achieve it? Tied to self-love, self-esteem and self-worth, body acceptance is the concept of accepting and appreciating your unique body and how hard it works for you. This construct is separate but related to body image, which is clinically defined as a multidimensional construct encompassing thoughts, feelings and behaviors of an individual related to their own appearance. Finding a way to love and appreciate our bodies through body acceptance is the key to a healthy self image. Without body acceptance, negative views of our body can lead to destructive and even dangerous behaviors to our physical, emotional and mental health.

As we transition from Eating Disorder Awareness Month in February, we want to continue this important conversation, focusing on body acceptance and positive body image. Of particular interest to the Pure Health clinical team, art therapy has shown promise as an intervention for the treatment of eating disorders.

If you feel like you are struggling with body acceptance and self-love, you are not alone. The professionals at Pure Health Center are ready to help you accept and love your body with evidence-based art therapy interventions (and more!) to support you.

Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorder

Though very similar, there are distinct differences between an eating disorder diagnosis and patterns of disordered eating. An eating disorder is clinically diagnosed based on specific criteria regarding number of symptoms, frequency of symptoms, duration of symptoms and intensity of symptoms, among other factors.

Disordered eating may be harder to identify due to not specifically meeting criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. However, disordered eating can still consist of dangerous and restrictive patterns of behaviors that may lead to an eating disorder diagnosis. Disordered eating can take the form of  problematic eating behaviors and distorted beliefs about food, body image and appearance that have not yet risen to the level of clinical significance.

Not all disordered eating will turn into a full fledged eating disorder, but it is a major risk factor and should be addressed by a professional. Without treatment, these symptoms and behaviors may become chronic.

When & How to Ask For Help

An internal battle like this does not have to be fought alone. Asking for help can be intimidating but the help from non judgemental, qualified professionals can be invaluable to supporting your mental and emotional health during this process.

Even if you do not think you have a problem or meet the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis, asking for help can still be beneficial to identify negative beliefs, harmful behaviors and other eating disorder risk factors.

Talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling. If you are feeling deeper, more intense, and longer lasting psychological distress associated with your eating habits, it may be a good idea to discuss this with a professional. Treatment options vary to meet your needs and may connect you with peers and survivors to support you on this recovery journey.

Why we love art therapy to support body acceptance

Asking for help may be difficult, but art allows you to communicate in a form that may be more valuable than verbally communicating your feelings at the beginning of your treatment journey.

Art Therapy, Creativity & Body Positivity

Art combined with therapy offer creative outlets of expression for introspection and growth. Creativity in therapy facilitates a greater understanding of emotions and behaviors that are often at the root of an eating disorder. Skills such as emotional regulation, self-regulation and sense of autonomy can be strengthened through art therapy.

Art can help individuals develop a deeper understanding between reality and their perceptions and how it applies to body dysmorphia and negative beliefs about appearance. Studies show art therapy as an intervention for eating disorders show improvement in quality of life and mental health outcomes.

Creativity can help individuals explore what their bodies are capable of. The expression of one’s thoughts and feelings in an individual’s chosen artistic medium can be a very validating experience in developing a deeper appreciation for what your body can do.

Meet Eliska Kostelny

If you feel ready to ask for help, look no further than Eliska Kostelny. Eliska is a licensed professional counselor, earning her Masters in Professional Counseling and Art Therapy from Adler University. With her empathetic, nurturing and educating approach, Eliska will help guide you towards body acceptance using evidence based techniques like art therapy. Asking for help can be difficult and scary. Eliska will support your journey, answer your questions and help you get on track to live a life of happiness, acceptance and self-love.

Pure Health Center is Here For You

Eliska and the Chicago therapists at Pure Health Center are dedicated to helping everyone live full, healthy and balanced lives. Help is within reach, and you do not have to endure this battle alone. It is possible to unlearn and relearn healthy behaviors and habits that allow us to live long, healthy, full lives. Connect with us today!

Related Articles

Thank you! Your submission has been received!