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Body image


We offer online counselling for clients all throughout Alberta.

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Do you look at yourself and see only defects? Are you constantly in self-criticism mode, especially the way you appear? Do you often want to hide or change your body? 


Are your negative thoughts about your body keeping you from enjoying your life? Do you constantly compare yourself to others? 


Finally, can you appreciate others and how they look and express themselves but struggle to find anything praiseworthy about yourself? 


Body image issues have become a prevalent concern in modern times, with a significant proportion of the population experiencing negative body image. A person's subjective perception of their physical appearance and attitude towards their own body is called body image. In clinical terms, body image is a person's mental representation of their physical appearance, which can influence how they feel about themselves. Body image issues, also known as negative body image, occur when someone has a distorted or negative view of their body. Body image-related problems can have significant negative impacts on an individual's mental health, social interactions, and overall quality of life.

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In Canada, this issue affects people of all ages, gender, and backgrounds. Body image issues can severely impact an individual's mental health, physical well-being, and overall quality of life.

According to a Canadian Mental Health Association survey, nearly 57% of Canadian adults have reported feeling unhappy with their body image. Furthermore, almost 46% of teenagers in Canada are dissatisfied with their appearance. The percentage is higher among girls, with nearly 63% of teenage girls experiencing negative body image compared to 31% of adolescent boys. The alarming numbers highlight the need for more awareness and education about body image issues.

Individuals with negative body image often experience a range of emotions, including shame, anxiety, and depression. They may avoid social situations and feel self-conscious about their appearance. Negative body image can lead to severe mental health issues, such as eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

We all desire healthy relationships both with others and ourselves. The relationship we have with our bodies can be complicated. Media, the diet industry, previous experiences, and thoughts about our bodies can impact our self-image and intimacy with others. Moreover, we have been told to look a certain way since birth - hence our never-ending fight with our bodies. Working through our conditioning and the shame around our bodies can lead to a more fulfilled and free life. 


Being comfortable in one's skin can be challenging; most have experienced putting it off for another day. "I will be happy when I lose weight. I will be happy when my skin clears up. I will be happy when I have plastic surgery." Body image issues come from the present-day body you live in right now. Struggles with body image can make us feel less than or not worthy. It can make us want to hide from the world because we fear what people think or say about us. Life does not have to feel this way. You can learn to love yourself in the skin you are in right now.

Common signs of negative body image include:

  • Constantly comparing oneself to others.

  • Obsessively checking one's appearance.

  • Feeling dissatisfied with one's body.


Negative body image can also lead to distorted thinking, such as believing that weight loss will solve their problems or that others always judge them based on their appearance. Living with a negative body image can be debilitating and significantly impact an individual's life. It can affect an individual's self-esteem and self-confidence, leading to social anxiety, isolation, and depression. People with negative body image may avoid social situations, have difficulty maintaining relationships, and experience difficulty at school or work. It can also lead to the development of harmful behaviours, such as disordered eating, substance abuse, and even self-harm. In severe cases, it may even lead to suicide. The struggle of living with a negative body image can impact an individual's daily life in various ways. For example, a person may avoid participating in activities they once enjoyed due to concerns about their appearance. They may also avoid social events or public spaces like beaches, swimming pools, or gyms. Negative body image can also impact an individual's intimate relationships, making them feel self-conscious and insecure.


Body image issues are linked to the development of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders. According to a study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, individuals with negative body image are at a higher risk of experiencing symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Additionally, people with negative body image are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.


Many advertisements depict the "perfect body and age" that is the one that people strive for or even believe is the norm. While a lot of conditioning says we should need or want a certain image to fit in, it can be very freeing to know and experience your innate wholeness and beauty at any age or with any body you have. While this can take some time, much change can happen even in a short time.

How we feel about ourselves results from minor and major traumas that started in childhood. Understanding the root cause of this issue is critical to the healing self-love journey.

Our identities are socially constructed, so it is our relationship with our bodies and normalizing that relationship can help clear the space for a kind and compassionate view and relationship with our bodies. Body image comes down to self-love and acceptance through a self-awareness practice. Therapy can help people with body image issues by exploring their relationship with self, leading to greater self-confidence, acceptance, compassion and empathy.

Therapy can also help you connect to yourself, your body, your feelings & emotions, and the subconscious mind to see those signs and signals that your body is trying to send and show one way or another, whether through appearance or physical state or psychosomatic symptoms. It can further help you look at emotions and feelings by exploring your inner world and parts of your personality. You will understand better why you feel what you feel and think of your body and yourself in a certain way and what is the most important. A trained psychologist can help you find insights into achieving the desired transformation.

When you reach out for help, it's helpful to remind yourself that transformation does not have to be scary and difficult. You might feel more vulnerable when out of your comfort zone, yet that zone, at times in reality, is not as comfortable on the inside of it as it might seem from the outside. Therapy allows you a safe space and access to a trained psychologist to guide you throughout the process and help you navigate difficult emotions together. With the help of a qualified mental health professional, you will be able to integrate the best from your life experience, choose what to let go of from your past, and keep developing and moving forward along your journey, enjoying the 'here and now' while making progress towards embracing the transformation, "the new you."


Issues around body image are primarily linked to harsh self-judgments, which often interfere with the ability to live a rich and fulfilling life. In therapy, you will be able to gain insight into some thoughts and emotions that prevent the establishment of self-worth and self-love. Through various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive restructuring and a focus on values-oriented work, you and the therapist will work collaboratively to help move away from self-defeating thoughts and closer to experiences promoting healing.

It may make sense to consider seeking a professional psychologist when you cannot function as well as you would like, whether at home or work, despite your best efforts. Suppose you are increasingly experiencing common symptoms of negative body image like low experiencing low self-confidence, exhaustion, depression, constant questioning of your self-efficacy or feeling disconnected from loved ones. In that case, it would be beneficial to seek help. Each person's experience and struggle with low or negative body image differs. What's important is to remember that there is no right or wrong time to seek help for it.

Unsure about asking for help?

Q1. What to expect in body image counselling?


Body image counselling happens in a safe environment that allows you to share details of your experiences. The space is there for you and your therapist to set goals, including learning mindfulness, deep breathing and many other relaxation techniques. Additionally, with the help of a trained psychologist, you will be able to explore and process your conscious and unconscious negative beliefs and narratives regarding yourself/your body. Body image counselling allows you to learn helpful coping mechanisms to recognize and adjust worst-case scenario thinking patterns. What's more, therapy can also promote ways of understanding self-care techniques where you can empower your mind and body by practicing self-compassion and kindness. 


Q2. Will I have to share my diet-related information, daily caloric intake, or other details? Will the therapist ask me to go on a diet? 


It's beneficial to remember that therapy is a space free of judgements. The therapist is not there to judge and tell you how to be or live. You always decide how to live, what to eat and how to practice self-love and self-care. The therapist is there to help you to find your inner and outer beauty and to guide and support you on the healing journey. 


Q3. Will my therapist try and stop me from getting invasive procedures like breast augmentation or nose correction surgery? 

It is helpful to remind yourself that therapy is not a space where your therapist dictates terms to you. It's a space where you work together as a team. In fact, with the help of a trained therapist, you will be able to make informed and better decisions regarding your body and life. 

Understanding that we are complex beings capable of vast emotions, thoughts, and unique experiences can be helpful. But more importantly, knowing that whatever challenges you face, it's beneficial to understand that you are not alone and that nothing is wrong with you.

Our approach

At Ward & Associates, we understand that the experience of low self-esteem and self-worth can be challenging to navigate alone. We believe that a positive alliance is imperative for any healing to take place. 

Ours is an approach based on our client's individual needs and requirements. Together, we will begin this healing journey where you will find us at every step with you, whether setting your personal goals or developing the skills that will lead to your personal growth. Our trained therapists at Ward & Associates are competent, sensitive and encouraging with a client-centric approach. The therapy sessions aim to provide a safe and supported space where your healing and well-being can precede. 

It is beneficial to remind yourself that your experiences of negative self-worth or low self-esteem are not signs of weakness or failure. More importantly, it is not your fault. If you reach out for help, we promise to be there for you. 

If you're looking for counselling in Sherwood Park, Ward & Associates Psychological Services is here for you. We specialize in individual counselling for adults, teens, and children and couples counselling and trauma counselling for first responders. We also offer online therapy for clients residing in Alberta. Contact us to learn more about our services or to book an appointment.

Let's empower and listen to your body together.

To book an appointment, please call 780-423-5316, email or click here to book online.

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