Body Image Workbook

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 1999 Volume 10, Number 5
©1999 Gürze Books

Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks
(Thomas F. Cash, PhD, New Harbinger Publishers, Oakland, CA; 1997, 221 pp., paperback, $17.95)

Thomas Cash, one of the most productive academic researchers in the area of body image, offers a very-well-conceptualized and well-executed workbook focusing on this area. Disturbed body images are painful and persist during recovery, often long after patients are already overcoming their nutritional problems and disordered behaviors. Cash’s thorough book offers a wonderful tool for addressing these problems. Empirically supported by research showing increased body image satisfaction and decreased distress following its use, the program is based on the following 8 steps: discovering one’s body image and setting goals for change; understanding the causes of discontent; getting comfortable with one’s body through body and mind relaxation and body image desensitization; changing faulty “private body talk” with corrective thinking; defeating self-defeating behavior by facing what one avoids; eliminating appearance pre-occupied rituals; treating one’s body right with affirming and enhancing activities; and continuing to improve and preventing relapse.

The book starts with a set of self-assessment measures, the body areas satisfaction test, the “wishing well” test (to gauge one’s ideals), a distressing situations test (to ascertain which situations are most likely to provoke negative feelings about appearance), and several other body-image tests. Exercises of various types fill other chapters. There are 42 separate ” help sheets” for self-discovery and for change, which evoke, provoke and direct. Each chapter offers a well-described, empirically based theoretical rationale, clearly and non-technically presented, lots of good information, and words of encouragement. I’m going to incorporate this book’s exercises into my own clinical practice on a routine basis.

— J.Y.

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