All About Body Dysmorphic Disorder and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling


What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental disorder characterised by the idea that aspects of your own body or appearance are severely flawed and that something significant needs to be done to either hide the flaws or to physically change them.

BDD tends to be classified in one of two types:

  1. Where your bodily flaws or delusional and not physically real, and
  2. In which your flaws are real wihin generally accepted norms.

Most sufferers perceive flaws in their hair, facial features or their skin.

Regardless of which type of body dysmorphic disorder you have, you will normally experience a high incidence of obsessive and intrusive thoughts about these flaws that lead to severe stress and anxiety and may make normal day-to-day functioning very difficult.

BDD affects males and females in roughly equal numbers but does tend to feature females more prominently in media stories about this problem.

Like many of the mental health disorders, body dysmorphic disorder has been categorised as being due to faulty underlying neurobiology however, despite years of biological research, no conclusive evidence for biological malfunction has been identified.


Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms

The main symptoms associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder frequently include:

  • A severe dislike of some aspect of one’s appearance.
  • Depression.
  • Social anxiety and avoidance.
  • Paranoia that others are referencing or pointing out the flaws.
  • Frequent checking of one’s appearance.
  • Constant seeking of external approval and validation.
  • Skin picking or other attempts ot make physical changes to the flaws.
  • Other OCD related thoughts or behaviours.
  • Obsessive dieting or exercising.

BDD sufferers will often present for corrective cosmetic surgery and in those cases in which the flaws are largely delusional, no relief from the emotional distress is obtained often leading to a cycle in which more and more cosmetic modification is sought out.

Most cases of body dysmorphic disorder can be helped with psychotherapy, particularly CBT which directly addresses the distorted cognition associated with BDD.

Psychiatric Diagnosis for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Technically, only a psychiatrist can diagnose a Body Dysmorphic Disorder, but in the UK general practitioners have tended to diagnose mental health problems by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The DSM lists specific symptoms against a range of disorders and whenever a person meets this criteria, they are said to be suffering from that disorder.

Diagnostic procedures do NOT make use of medical testing (for example blood tests) in order to produce a diagnosis, but rather is an opinion based on the observation of certain behaviours in the person who is suffering.

Because of this lack of verifiable medical testing, diagnosis remains a controversial subject, particularly within the psychological (non-medical) community.

However, in the UK access to support services is often contingent on receiving a diagnosis, so in this sense, a formal diagnosis may be useful.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder sufferer in therapy session

Counselling for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

We offer a number of different types of therapy and counselling for Body Dysmorphic Disorder and related problems.

Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:

  • How long you have had the problem.
  • Your personal preferences.
  • How your problem is affecting you today.

You can read more about the different types of therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder on the following links:

Although all therapies use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.

Research suggests that this therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.

The behaviour change framework

Behaviour Change Framework – BCF

All of our counselling sessions and programmes are enhanced by applying the Behaviour Change Framework (BCF).

This scientifically proven protocol clearly defines the incremental stages of behaviour change that you need to go through in order to achieve long lasting and sustainable change.

Drawn from the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change (TTM), the framework provides a roadmap that not only gauges the current stage of progression through the change process, but also indicates if more change is required before entering the next phase of therapy or coaching.

In this way, we are able to ensure that you get the best possible level of support in overcoming your problems as well as ensuring that we don’t terminate the change process prematurely.

You can read more about the Science of Change here.

Free initial consultations for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about body dysmorphic disorder or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.

Getting a Mental Health Diagnosis

Please be aware that Lee Psychology do not diagnose mental health disorders.

Our psychological counselling services do not require you to have been formally diagnosed but should you wish to obtain a formal mental health diagnosis, then please contact your GP who can arrange it for you.

Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass

Read what the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the United Nations (U.N.) said recently about the biomedical models of mental illness on Psychology Today.

W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome Body Dysmorphic Disorder but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your own problems using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.

Counselling Locations

We offer counselling for Body Dysmorphic Disorder problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.