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55 Body Image Questions to Ask Clients in Therapy

Body image concerns can include a person’s thoughts, perceptions, and feelings about their own body. These concerns can include a preoccupation with perceived flaws and the pursuit of unattainable physical goals caused by internal and external factors. Such concerns are pervasive and can profoundly affect self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of self-worth on a global scale. Research indicates that an average range of  20% to 40% of women and 10% to 30% of men experience dissatisfaction with their bodies. Keep reading to learn 55 body image questions to ask your clients in therapy sessions.

Like other mental health concerns, we cannot pinpoint the exact reason why some individuals experience body image concerns and others don’t; however, we do have an understanding of various factors that can contribute to the development of a poor body image, including:

  • Influence from television shows, movies, social media, and other forms of media
  • Social pressures to conform to societal beauty standards
  • Childhood experiences including teasing, bullying, or receiving criticism related to a person’s appearance
  • Family attitudes and behaviors surrounding physical appearance, weight, and food choices
  • Cultural ideas and beauty standards
  • Personal factors including personality traits, temperament, and previous experiences
  • Trauma, including physical injuries and major life changes
  • Chronic stress and mental health disorders including depression and anxiety
  • Diet and exercise culture expectations that include restrictive eating, excessive exercise, and preoccupation with body shape and weight 

Individuals who are dissatisfied with their bodies may be experiencing a mental health concern or disorder, for which this is a symptom. As an example, individuals who are living with eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, commonly struggle with their body image. Additionally, individuals may have distorted perceptions of their body shape and weight that stem from a poor body image, which can contribute to unhealthy behaviors including over-exercising and restrictive eating.

View all of our body image worksheets

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is another mental health concern that is characterized by obsessive preoccupation with perceived flaws or defects in physical appearance, which may not be noticeable to others. Individuals who experience BDD may experience anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal, which significantly impact their daily lives.

Poor body image can contribute to feelings of depression including inadequacy, low self-esteem, and worthlessness. Individuals may experience persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty concentrating as a result of body dissatisfaction.

Body dissatisfaction and concerns about appearance can fuel anxiety disorders and heighten an individual’s concerns about being judged by others based on their appearance. Anxiety symptoms can contribute to social isolation individuals experience in an attempt to avoid social situations that heighten this worry or fear. 

For some, poor body image may be linked to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors related to appearance, including excessive grooming and checking mirrors. These behaviors can interfere with daily functioning and cause distress.

Body distress can have a significant impact on a person’s functioning and self-esteem, but in psychotherapy and compassion, individuals can receive the support they need for underlying concerns that are contributing to their body image concerns. Examples of treatment approaches and interventions that may be used with clients who struggle with body image include:

Getting Ready for Your First Therapy Session with a New Client with Body Image Issues

When you meet with new clients, you may find that some are seeking support for their body image concerns, whereas others may be in treatment for a related or contributing mental health concern. Your first task will be to tease out their body image concerns with a comprehensive assessment that explores when these concerns began, their severity, frequency, and the impact they have on your client’s overall functioning and well-being.

Once you have a thorough understanding of their experience, you can then jointly develop an effective treatment plan that addresses your client’s unique needs. Depending on their presentation, your clinical focus may not be directed at their body image concerns but rather on presenting concerns that have a greater impact on their functioning.

When you can begin working on your client’s dissatisfaction with their body, it may be helpful to incorporate worksheets into your clinical work. TherapyByPro is a leading provider of therapy aides and worksheets, addressing various mental health concerns and incorporating an assortment of therapeutic approaches. Their worksheets are customizable and printable, allowing mental health professionals to utilize their worksheets with ease. Examples of worksheets that you could use to help facilitate your use of body image questions include:

Body Image Questions to Ask Clients in Therapy

As you prepare for your sessions with clients who experience discomfort or distress from their bodies, you may find that preparing and organizing yourself before sessions provide you with a mental template for your time together. This can, of course, be tailored as your session progresses to incorporate pressing matters or new details they are sharing with you. Examples of questions to ask about body image in counseling sessions include:

  1. Can you tell me about what brought you in today?
  2. Can you share with me something you like about yourself?
  3. How would you describe your inner thoughts? Are they uplifting, or is there a critical undertone?
  4. Can you tell me what you do to care for your body?
  5. How do you prioritize your physical health?
  6. Could you describe your exercise habits?
  7. Can you describe your food intake on a typical day?
  8. How often do you find yourself taking your weight or measurements?
  9. Can you tell me how you feel when you look in the mirror?
  10. Can you tell me about a time in your life when you felt confident in your body?
  11. Can you tell me how you manage stress and discomfort?
  12. Do you find yourself eating more or restricting your food intake when you’re upset?
  13. Can you tell me about your experience with anxiety?
  14. Have you experienced depressive symptoms?
  15. How would you describe your self-esteem?
  16. Can you think of a time when you changed or canceled plans unexpectedly because you were worried about others judging your body or appearance?
  17. Could you describe your social media use?
  18. Do you feel that social media provides a healthy body image or not?
  19. How do you feel media sources, including movies, television shows, and social media affect your perception of beauty?
  20. When you use social media, how often would you say that you use filters or edit your appearance?
  21. Has there been a time when you felt pressured to change your appearance by social media or outside forces?
  22. How do you feel your body image affects your day?
  23. If you woke up tomorrow without body image concerns, how might your day look different?
  24. Can you think of something you have done recently to show yourself kindness and compassion?
  25. Can you describe your self-care routine?
  26. Can you think of any situations that make you feel unhappy with your body?
  27. Are there any triggers for your distress?
  28. Have you found any coping skills that help when you’re feeling distressed?
  29. How would you describe your experience with sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness?
  30. Can you tell me about your typical experience with worry and guilt?
  31. Can you tell me about how you feel in social situations?
  32. Would you describe yourself as an anxious person?
  33. Can you tell me about how your thoughts impact your feelings and behaviors?
  34. How much time would you say that you spend worrying about your appearance?
  35. Have you found that the time you spend worrying about how others perceive you has negatively impacted your functioning?
  36. Do you compare your body to others?
  37. How often do you find yourself comparing your body to others?
  38. Why do you think you compare yourself to others?
  39. Can you think back to when you started comparing yourself to others? How old were you when it began?
  40. Can you think of any negative comments or criticisms that others have said about your appearance that affect you today?
  41. How do you feel your body image concerns affect your relationships with others>
  42. Please share with me any behaviors you have engaged in trying to change your appearance.
  43. Can you think of any ways that your cultural background affects your body image?
  44. How do you feel when others compliment your appearance?
  45. Can you think of any specific body parts that you’re dissatisfied with?
  46. How do you think your body image affects your self-esteem
  47. Can you think of any social situations you have avoided because you felt uncomfortable in your skin?
  48. Are there any experiences or traumas that you feel have affected how you feel about your body?
  49. How do you feel your body image concerns affect your mental health?
  50. Can you tell me about your physical strengths and parts of your body that you like?
  51. How do you feel about the concept of body acceptance and body positivity?
  52. Does your body image struggle affect your ability to engage in self-care?
  53. Have you felt validation or approval from your use of social media?
  54. Can you tell me about how your body image concerns have evolved?
  55. Can you think of any hobbies or interests that help you feel connected to your body?

Final Thoughts on Body Image Questions to Ask Clients

Thank you for taking the time to read our article about body image questions that can be used during therapy and counseling sessions! A clinician’s willingness to listen, validate, and support clients as they navigate their thoughts and feelings about their bodies can have a significant impact on a client’s healing journey. Within the walls of a safe and supportive environment, clients can explore the roots of their body image concerns and work to develop healthier perspectives of their bodies.

If you are interested in learning more about fostering a positive and nurturing environment for clients who have body image concerns, we encourage you to seek out continuing education opportunities and related training experiences within your mental health niche. 

TherapyByPro is an online mental health directory that connects mental health pros with clients in need. If you’re a mental health professional, you can Join our community and add your practice listing here. We have assessments, practice forms, and worksheet templates mental health professionals can use to streamline their practice. View all of our mental health forms, worksheet, and assessments here.

View all of our body image worksheets


  • Quittkat, Hannah L et al. “Body Dissatisfaction, Importance of Appearance, and Body Appreciation in Men and Women Over the Lifespan.” Frontiers in psychiatry vol. 10 864. 17 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00864
Kayla Loibl, MA, LMHC
Author: Kayla Loibl, MA, LMHC

Kayla is a Mental Health Counselor who earned her degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She has provided psychotherapy in a residential treatment program and an outpatient addiction treatment facility in New York as well as an inpatient addiction rehab in Ontario, Canada. She has experience working with individuals living with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and trauma.

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