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Understanding and treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Sabine Wilhelm

3 May 2023


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a common and severe obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder characterized by a preoccupation with a perceived flaw in appearance. Appearance preoccupations may involve the face or head (e.g., skin, hair), but any body part can be the focus of concern. BDD is often disabling and associated with high suicide rates. Clinicians often do not recognize BDD, and very few are familiar with its treatment.

The event will be equivalent to 5.1/2hrs of CPD.


This workshop aims to provide information on empirically validated cognitive-behavioral treatment strategies designed to help individuals with BDD. The presenter will first describe how to recognize, diagnose, and conceptualize individuals with BDD correctly. Participants will then learn a range of therapeutic techniques, including strategies for delusional and non-delusional BDD, metaphors and mindfulness exercises, tools to address low self-esteem and over-importance of appearance, and skills to reduce common BDD behaviors (e.g., body checking, comparing themselves with others, avoidance behaviors), mirror retraining, and strategies for involving patients’ families. In addition, this workshop will cover motivational interventions to help patients overcome resistance to treatment.

Finally, techniques for overcoming specific BDD symptoms, such as cosmetic surgery seeking, skin picking, and relapse prevention strategies, will be discussed. 

Learning Objectives

You will learn:
How to recognize, diagnose, assess, and conceptualize BDD. 
How to engage a patient in CBT for BDD. 
How to design various cognitive and behavioral treatment strategies that will allow the patient to develop new ways of thinking and behaving.

Training Modalities

The workshop will provide instruction on the assessment and treatment of BDD, interaction via the chat, modeling, and Q&A.

Key References

1. Wilhelm S, Weingarden H, Greenberg JL, Hoeppner SS, Snorrason I, Bernstein EE, McCoy TH, & Harrison O. Efficacy of App-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder with Coach Support: Initial Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Psychother Psychosom. 2022;91(4):277-285. PMID: 35588706 PMCID: PMC9394457

2. Wilhelm S, Phillips KA, Greenberg JL, O'Keefe SM, Hoeppner SS, Keshaviah A, Sarvode-Mothi S, Schoenfeld DA. Efficacy and Posttreatment Effects of Therapist-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Supportive Psychotherapy for Adults with Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 1;76(4):363-373. PMID: 30785624 PMCID: PMC6450292.

3. Wilhelm S, Phillips KA, Steketee G. A cognitive behavioral treatment manual for body dysmorphic disorder. New York, Guilford Press (2013).

4. Wilhelm. S. (2006). Feeling good about the way you look: A program for overcoming body image problems. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

About the presenter

Sabine Wilhelm, Ph.D., is a Professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Chief of Psychology as well as Director of the Center for OCD and Related Disorders (CORD) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She is also the Director of the Center for Digital Mental Health in Psychiatry at MGH.

Dr. Wilhelm is a leading researcher in obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder. Her recent research focuses on using cutting-edge technology to improve and personalize mental health care for various mental health concerns. Dr. Wilhelm has published 318 papers, including seven books, and has given more than 290 talks on these subjects. She has been a mentor to 50 junior investigators in the field. She is currently working on smartphone-based treatments for OCD, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder. Her ultimate goal is to use technology-based interventions to enhance global access to high-quality mental health interventions.

Who should attend

This workshop is suitable for those interested in working with patients suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. 

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

View Survey

This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

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