Mirror exposure for the treatment of body image disturbance

Authors

  • Sherrie Selwyn Delinsky PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey
    2. McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, Massachusetts
    3. Massachusetts General Hospital
    • Department of Psychiatry, 15 Parkman St, WAC 812, Boston, MA 02114
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  • G. Terence Wilson PhD

    1. Department of Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey
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Abstract

Objective

Body image disturbance is a risk factor for the development and persistence of eating disorders. Limitations of current treatments for body image disturbance prompted the development of a mirror exposure (ME) treatment.

Method

ME involves deliberate, planned, and systematic exposure to body image. The approach is nonjudgmental, holistic in focus, and mindful of present emotional experience. Complementary behavioral assignments aim to reduce avoidance and excessive checking. The current study evaluated the effectiveness of ME therapy (in a three-session format) compared with a nondirective (ND) therapy for 45 women with extreme weight and shape concerns.

Results

ME resulted in significant improvements at termination and follow-up in body checking and avoidance, weight and shape concerns, body dissatisfaction, dieting, depression, and self-esteem. As hypothesized, ME was significantly better than ND on many of the outcome measures.

Conclusion

ME is an effective treatment for body image disturbance and should be evaluated in the context of treatments for eating disorders. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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