RESEARCH PAPER
Restoring the body: changes in body self in the course of a focusing and arts-based therapy program for female interpersonal trauma survivors
 
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1
Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland
2
Center for Personal Development and Psychotherapy, Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2019-08-03
Final revision date: 2020-01-23
Acceptance date: 2020-01-27
Online publication date: 2019-12-30
Publication date: 2019-12-30
 
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2019;7(4):324–340
 
KEYWORDS
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ABSTRACT
Background:
The goal of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a therapeutic program for female survivors of interpersonal trauma, among others, of domestic violence. The participating women took part in four two-day modules in a group setting during which they were offered focusing training and arts-based Gestalt therapy. The effectiveness of the interventions was evaluated in terms of improvements in body image and body experience, according to the model of body self as developed by Sakson-Obada.

Participants and procedure:
The Body-Self Questionnaire, the Affective Body Image test and the Draw-a-Woman test were administered to 21 participants before and after the program.

Results:
After the therapy, the participants reported a reduction of disturbances in their body experience (interpretation and regulation of emotions and bodily needs and in body identity). In the body image domain, increased body satisfaction was observed using both declarative and projective tools – the women were also more likely to draw uncovered parts of the female body. Although improvements were noted in most of the women, three of them reported an increase in difficulties, mainly in the body image domain.

Conclusions:
The study demonstrated that: (1) a combination of the two techniques, i.e., focusing training and art included in the Gestalt group therapy program, resulted in satisfactory changes in body image and body experience; (2) the therapy’s effects should be monitored in the context of a woman’s various life situations; and (3) the use of both declarative and non-declarative methods can be recommended to assess the effectiveness of body-centered therapy.

 
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