September 15, 2016 by John Andrew Williams
The human body is the greatest resource we have; it is the place where our mind lives and it is a temple for our soul. It is fascinating to follow how it grows and see how the body’s outside begin to reflect all of the things that happen on the inside.
I was lucky enough to begin working with teenagers when I was a student myself. We had so much in common during this time, because I was going through many of the same transitions as the people in my groups. It was pure bliss getting to work with them.
We discussed a lot of things, from relationships with parents or friends to school and hobbies, but the most interesting topic that always came up in our groups was the changes within their own bodies.
The metamorphosis that was happening to everyone was exciting, yet scary, and absolutely new. I started using a group exercise that helped with awareness of what was going on with teenagers: members choose an architect and this person makes a “sculpture” from the rest of the group. It helped the members of the group to understand and express a lot of the questions and feelings they were having during this time.
Time flies. Almost 4 years after that experience with my teenage group, I had started my own practice. Because I was just starting out, I didn’t have any specialization, and I worked with all types of clients.
There were many teenagers and young adults in my private practice, and as I began working with them again, I became really confused about why we never seemed to be able to address some of their real issues. I worked with them individually, so I couldn’t use the same “sculpture” method that had worked previously, and I didn’t know what to do to help my clients.
That was when I decided to expand my tools as a psychologist and body oriented therapist, and I started to learn life coaching tools and skills. Using a mix of these methods and techniques brought my clients and myself a lot of insight.
My new tools became especially important for my teenage clients who fight with body dysmorphia. This body disorder happens fairly often, and is common in teenagers during the time of physical and mental metamorphosis. Many teenagers can’t handle all the changes taking place, and they begin to dislike their bodies and themselves.
I began using a modification of the coaching tool Inner Critic when working with teenagers who have issues with body dysmorphic disorder. This tool helps young people stop criticizing themselves and start understanding the nature of their metamorphosis and change.
I also sometimes integrate the Future Self exercise (but sometimes that is too specific because my client and I put a lot of attention on how he or she exactly look like in ten years.) and the Negative Assumption ad Limiting Beliefs charts.
These exercises not only emphasize positive attitudes about their bodies, but they help to start any action steps that move the teen closer to loving her or himself. Using these tools, I have found new ways of helping my clients stop judging and start loving their own unique nature.
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