Mirror exposure for the treatment of body image disturbance

Int J Eat Disord. 2006 Mar;39(2):108-16. doi: 10.1002/eat.20207.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Perceptual Distortion*
  • Person-Centered Psychotherapy
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Personality Inventory
  • Self Concept
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Somatoform Disorders / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception*