counselling psychotherapy


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Mamamia – I’m Terrified of Having Children

“The idea of having children terrifies me. Truly, on a deep level.”

A 31-year-old married woman has opened her heart in a letter to Mamamia. She says that deep down, she’s uncertain if she should be trying to get pregnant or not.

Read the full article with my suggestions on how to determine whether or not to have children as well as some of the underlying reasons that might be holding you back.

Image Credit: Mamamia


About Jodie

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) Approved Practitioner

I’m excited to have become an Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) approved practitioner. Over the next few years I will be working towards GOLD membership.

ACFED train psychotherapists,  psychologists, social workers, counsellors, registered nurses and dieticians in theory and skills related to eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and orthorexia), obesity and nutrition. If you are looking for an eating disorder specialist in your area, you can find a list of approved practitioners on their website.

About The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) via their website:

“The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) offers training to a wide range of health care professionals on the best practice treatment of eating disorders.  ACFED also provides sufferers and their loved ones with a directory of qualified health professionals, making it easier for them to find the right support.

The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders is the leading independent provider of professional development in Eating Disorders and Obesity for health professionalism Australia and New Zealand.

Their mission is to develop and deliver effective, evidence based professional development opportunities in Eating Disorders and Obesity to health professionals and to develop a network of ACFED Approved health professionals with a high standard of skills and resources.”

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

A Jungian Understanding of The Fat Complex by Cheryl Fuller PhD on Shrink Rap Radio

Image Credit: Shrink Rap Radio

A Jungian Understanding of The Fat Complex with Cheryl Fuller on Shrink Rap Radio, is without a doubt one of the most informative and enlightening conversations I have listened to in a long time.

Whilst this podcast is a must listen for all – it is essential listening for mental health and wellness professionals.


Because amongst several thought changing discussions about fat phobia, fat trauma, unhealthy and healthy at any size, the war on obesity and the rise of anorexia, Cheryl discusses Yalom’s essay on the Fat Lady within the context of the fat shaming and thin privilege she personally experienced by several of her own therapists – where love and care, regardless of one’s size, is expectable.

She says,

“I have encountered what I call the thin gaze and with it the assumption that I should want to lose weight. The thin gaze, arising from thin privilege, is the objectifying gaze cast upon the fat person by someone who is not fat.”

About Cheryl Fuller

Cheryl Fuller is a Jungian psychotherapist living on the coast of Maine. She is passionate about depth psychology, psychotherapy, feminism and fat studies. Her new book, The Fat Lady Sings, weaves these threads into a tapestry of personal experience, critique of psychoanalytic theory and treatment of fatness, all in the context of the war on obesity. Her life is and has been the life of a fat woman which naturally feeds her interest in the lived experience of fat people, the absence of such voices in discussions of weight, and in the effects of fat phobia and what she terms the cultural fat complex.

She has published essays on Medea, fat politics, and embodiment. Cheryl holds a BA in Psychology from Duke University, an MA in clinical Psychology from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Jungian Studies from the Union Institute.

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

Healing the Mother Wound with Bethany Webster

This is one of my all time favourite episodes of the Women In-Depth: Conversations About the Inner Lives of Women Podcast.

Our early relationships with our primary caregivers have a profound impact on our emerging sense of self.

In my depth psychotherapy work with women, exploring the mother-wound and how to become a nourishing mother to the inner child is a powerful part of the journey, particularly for those with eating disorders and other food, weight and body image concerns.

Lourdes Viado, creator and host of Women In-Depth and Bethany Webster from Womb of Light discuss in this episode:

• How the Mother Wound affects all aspects of a woman’s life
• How having an abortion at 19 changed Bethany’s life perspective
• Working on childhood history and spirituality
• Devaluing the feminine
• How the Mother Wound is a product of patriarchy
• How it is a universal wound
• The importance of looking within
• Moving towards being a culture of depth and reflection
• How you can carry your energy differently and create change
• Healing the Mother Wound through an algorithm of safety
• Re-parenting your inner child that wasn’t mothered
• How the Mother Wound has three levels
• Repeating unhealthy motherhood behaviors in our adult life
• How the disconnect with our mothers resonates in our feeling towards life
• Dealing with taboos and stereotypes around the Mother Wound
• Realizing mothers can’t fill all our needs
• Why this isn’t simply bringing up the past
• To see the Mother Wound as a tool of empowerment

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!

Healing the Mother Wound with Lourdes Viado and Bethany Webster

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

To the Bone Review [Video]

Image Credit: Netflix

To the Bone Review

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Netflix movie, To the Bone. As a former long-time sufferer of bulimia and as a counsellor and psychotherapist who has worked for nearly 20 years with women suffering with eating disorders – I get it.

I viewed To the Bone as a slice of one person’s struggle, at one point in time. Unfortunately that means it can’t be representative of all people who suffer and all types of eating disorders. From this place, I didn’t find it as bad as some of the reviews because it does raise some important talking points. The only real disappointment for me is that it lacked a depth exploration of the main character Ellen’s suffering and what it really takes to recover.


Here are my thoughts about To the Bone (with spoilers):

The focus on the dysfunctional relationships within Ellen’s family system

The story starts by highlighting the relationships between Ellen and her family. Ellen’s mother and father are separated. We don’t see the father throughout the movie – he is physically and emotionally absent. Ellen’s mother and step mother are completely unaware of Ellen’s needs and are distracted by their own lives. Ellen lacks a nourishing mother.

There is sometimes a reluctance amongst eating disorder therapists to talk about how certain parenting styles contribute to the development of the eating disorder. This is concerning considering in nearly 20 years of working with women with food, weight and body image concerns, almost every client I have worked with has grown up in a family where she has suffered at very least childhood emotional neglect, at worse, narcissistic wounding and complex trauma related to experiences within the family system.

The child with the eating disorder is often expressing the dysfunction within the family system; she does this through her behaviours and symptoms. Her body and her relationship with food, express what her words cannot. The tragedy is that the whole family is in crisis but the focus turns to the ‘sick child’ (who often feels like the problem). This is not about blaming families, rather, thinking systemically about what is really going on within the whole family system.

I like that To the Bone highlights this but I felt it lacked a depth exploration, particularly in the therapy scenes. Focusing on calorie counting and other behaviours distracts from the deep suffering that Ellen is experiencing. It also stops the audience from really connecting with Ellen’s pain. Like treatments that only focus on meal plans, food and weight restoration, To the Bone gets caught on the surface, rather than seeking to understand the whole story, the underlying trauma, and the value, meaning and purpose of the symptoms. To achieve long-term recovery, the focus needs to be redirected to the underlying emotional, cultural, psychological and spiritual concerns.

Ellen connects with others in a group home treatment facility

Whilst there didn’t appear to be a lot of supervision at the group home, I liked that it showed how Ellen was able to build connections with others in treatment. As we know, many of the issues underlying eating and weight issues are relational and attachment related.

Some reviews of the movie are concerned that it focused on a glamorised, smoky eyed, attractive white female. It’s important for the public to understand that disordered eating comes in all types, shapes and sizes. I liked that the residential treatment centre included different types of people (including a guy), different types of body sizes and different types of eating disorder behaviours and symptoms.

Ellen hits rock bottom

There is a lot of criticism about this part of the storyline. Not everyone hits rock bottom before they seek treatment and not everyone needs to hit rock bottom before they seek treatment.

My personal experience is that I did hit rock bottom and shortly after, I found a psychotherapist who specialised in eating disorders. It was the start of our 6 year journey in weekly therapy together; therapy that ultimately helped me save my life.

So although this storyline doesn’t fit for everyone – it is certainly something I have personally experienced as well as many of the women I have worked with over the years. Wanting to die, versus the realisation of, ‘I might actually die’, can often be the motivating force for choosing recovery.

Ellen’s dream in the desert

The scene where Ellen goes to the desert really spoke to me. When I first entered my own counselling and psychotherapy for bulimia, my therapist shared with me an article by Jungian Analyst, Mary Esther Harding, ‘The value and meaning of depression’.

‘Depression’, she says, ‘symbolises a psychological condition or experience when one has the feeling of being in a desert, or in the wilderness – a feeling of being lost, lost in a barren region, so lost that one is in a state of despair.’

‘For the wilderness of course is a place where there is no water. Life is precarious, human life almost impossible. A human being in the wilderness is alone, isolated, [her] life in danger’

The name ‘wilderness’ means wild-land and wherever the wilderness appears in a myth or a dream, it refers to a place of stagnation, where there is no life, where everything is arid and nothing can grow. In psychology it refers to a condition of having this same characteristic – a condition where the flame of life sinks. All energy sinks into the unconscious and the individual suffers from depression and inertia.’

‘A spirit of dullness and gloom and hopelessness falls upon one at such time and nothing seems worthwhile. Life has temporarily lost its meaning.’

This is exactly what it feels like to be stuck in the despair of the depression underlying the eating disorder. Life has lost all value, meaning and purpose. It is a place of no life energy and no will.

Essential to long-term recovery is an exploration of value, meaning and purpose at two levels:

  1. How has the eating disorder been of value? What is its meaning? How has it served? What is the emerging purpose of the symptoms? What are the symptoms calling for the person to awaken to in themselves?
  2. Life has lost its value, meaning and purpose. The work of recovery is a spiritual journey to discover that which brings value, meaning and purpose in life.

To the Bone offers hope

Ellen and her fellow companions in treatment all have a bumpy recovery journey – this is resonant with real life recovery. After Ellen’s experience in the desert and hitting rock bottom, her life energy and will was no longer trapped and she made a choice to go back into treatment. For me, this shows that even though recovery is full of ups and downs, it is always possible. The ending was a hopeful one.

Hope is the starting point for recovery.

For therapists working with eating disorders, the person suffering comes to us drowning in a sea of despair and hopelessness; it’s therefore imperative that we hold hope and continue to nourish her until she is able to do this for herself.

To the Bone is triggering

Yes it is. And … so is life.

In the height of my eating disorder, I couldn’t leave the house without being triggered. I was triggered by my reflection in the shop window, the Krispy Kreme that popped up on the corner of my street, the diet talk around my office lunch table, the Weight Watchers advertisement on the billboard opposite my house, the cover of a magazine with headlines, ‘size 0’. For those suffering with eating and weight concerns, we are bombarded with images of how women should look and how they should eat. For me, flickering through Instagram celebrities and wellness warriors is just as triggering, if not more so. MacKenzie, the physician who treated Noxon who produced To the Bone says,  “I don’t think there are any triggers in there that young people of today are not already exposed to,” .For someone in the grips or recovery from an eating disorder, the trigger list is endless.

To recover, it’s about,

  • knowing that triggers are extremely challenging
  • learning to manage these challenges as part of recovery
  • understanding that even when we are triggered, we have a choice about how we respond to the trigger
  • realising that when we are triggered, it is not a time for acting out but a time to look inwards to build our capacity for self-exploration and self-awareness

What do people who have suffered with disordered eating make of To the Bone?

As with 13 Reasons Why, I asked the women I work with what they thought of To the Bone. Shared with permission here,

‘I didn’t feel so alone after watching it’

‘It was a good movie and it made me feel hopeful’

‘Not the best it could have been but I’m glad eating disorders are finally in the spotlight’

‘It’s really got people talking; that’s a good thing’

‘The reviews said it glamorized anorexia, I didn’t feel it did, that’s just what it is like’

‘I liked it and could totally identify with all of the characters’

‘It was ok but I wish they showed how much pain is being covered up’

‘It was painful to watch because it reminded me of how I used to be’

‘That could have been my family, it was spot on’

‘I realised that I actually have an eating disorder’

Should you watch To the Bone?

If you are struggling with any kind of food, weight and body image concern, use discernment about whether you should watch this movie. In an ideal world, my recommendation would be to watch prior to your therapy session or with your therapist or other support person so that you can process the themes in the movie with care.

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

WATCH: 3 Netflix Documentaries Reveal the Harmful Truth About Pornography

©kentoh – Can Stock Photo Inc.

In 2016, The Gottman Institute, who provide a researched based approach to strengthening relationships, published An Open Letter On Porn.  Having worked with women in counselling and psychotherapy for over 17 years, I have witnessed firsthand the negative effects on a) women who work in the sex and porn industry b) women who excessively use porn c) women who are in relationships with partners who are addicted to porn and d) young women who are growing up in an over sexualised and pornified culture.

I was deeply shocked and saddened by some of the comments on the Gottman post, as well as in further discussions with counsellors and psychotherapists regarding the normalisation and promotion of porn.

Addictions, eating disorder and post traumatic stress specialist, Bernadette Devine from Therapy Harley Street in London writes, “there are moves afoot to normalise porn and make those who argue otherwise feel a bit behind the times.”

Yes, some types of porn are known as ethical, female friendly and or feminist.

Unfortunately, this is not the kind that within 60 seconds of searching online, the average person stumbles across. Mostly, it is amateur and hard core.

Porn use has reached global, epidemic proportions and the harmful effects are widely documented.  In Growing Up in a Pornified Culture, Dr Gail Dines says that our children are growing up hyper sexualised; and in particular, girls are either not seen at all, or seen for their fuckability. Martin Daubney from Porn on the Brain describes it as a world of male domination and female humiliation. Divine describes the effects as a trauma to the soul, “…psychospiritually, degrading a person by objectifying and or humiliating them is a soul trauma wound from which recovery is a difficult journey. No one escapes the damage, those in the camera sites, nor those watching, plus there is the ripple effect on families and society”.

In my research, I came across these 3 eye opening documentaries on Netflix.

As a woman, a wife, a mother (to a boy and a girl), and a psychotherapist – having watched these series – I have no doubts whatsoever that porn harms. When we view that which is readily available online – we are participating in an abusive, harmful and unethical industry.

Watching these series was incredibly painful as they touch on the following issues + some: depression, trauma, low self-worth, narcissistic wounding and the longing to be seen, addiction as a way of numbing out, porn as a way of financing addiction,  objectification and not being treated like a human being, seeking fame and money, sex trafficking, and emotional, mental, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse and trauma.

Watch! I’d love to hear your thoughts…

I Am Jane Doe

Image credit: Netflix

I have included I am Jane Doe as “there are nearly 2 million women and girls who are sex slaves at any one time”, and sex trafficking and porn are inextricably linked.

I am Jane Doe (2017) is a documentary about the legal battle regarding the adult classified sections in Several women whose daughters were exploited on the website file a lawsuit in order to hold the owners responsible for publishing third-party sex ads. I am Jane Doe is a gut-wrenching human story and looks at the social and legal issues that affects every community in America. If you are 18+ the official trailer is available on YouTube.

Hot Girls Wanted

Image credit: Netflix

Produced by Rashida Jones, Hot Girls Wanted is, “a cinema vérité look at the disturbing exploitative world of amateur porn.”(LA Times). This documentary shines the light on the thriving amateur entertainment industry through the experiences of five young women in the business. If you are 18+ the official trailer is available on YouTube.

After Porn Ends

Image credit: Netflix

After Porn Ends, is a documentary that examines the lives and careers of some of the biggest names in the history of the adult entertainment industry; but what happens to them after they leave the business and try to live the average lives that millions of others enjoy? Can they really live a normal life? If you are 18+ the official trailer is available on YouTube.

Need Help?

If you are struggling with any of the issues mentioned in this blog post – find a psychotherapist in your area who understands and can work at depth with the underlying concerns that you are struggling with.

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 15 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

National Psychotherapy Day Instagram Challenge

© Can Stock Photo / GeorgeDolgikh

Psychotherapy has an image problem.

Let’s change that because we know that therapy is an effective, economical, natural, and meaningful way to improve lives.

National Psychotherapy Day has been campaigning since 2012, fans of National Psychotherapy Day:
?Share therapy effectiveness research
?Donate time or money to support low-fee counseling centers
?Give constructive feedback to therapists
?Talk and write about therapy to fight stigma, and
?Wear turquoise on September 25th to show support

This year I am hosting an Instagram Challenge and I’d love for you to join me!

Join the Instagram Challenge by posting a photo a day to educate the public about all things counselling and psychotherapy. I will repost and share a link to the best photo each day on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook  

National Psychotherapy Day Instagram Challenge – How Do I join?

  1. Follow me on Instagram and send me a message there so that I can a) follow you back and b) send you the photo list prior to September 1.
  2. Let me know any suggestions you have for photo a day ideas/topics eg. favourite psychotherapist, inspirational quote, a therapist’s chair, best book for depression etc. I will choose the most popular 25 responses to use for the photo a day prompts
  3. Leave your Instagram handle in the comments below so that we can all follow each other. Alternatively, use the #tags below to find your challenge colleagues
  4. From September 1, post the photo a day
  5. Tag me @Jodie.gale in your photo a day
  6. Use the #tags: #NPD17 #nationalpsychotherapyday #psychotherapy #therapyrocks #hipstertherapy #therapyhelps #photoaday
  7. Share your challenge photos to your other social media accounts to educate the public about psychotherapy
  8. Follow National Psychotherapy Day on social media and tag them in your posts

Why Join the Challenge?

  1. Express your creativity
  2. Become part of a counselling and psychotherapy community on Instagram
  3. Promote positive images on Instagram
  4. Educate the public about the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy
  5. Share your practice pics and links with the public (SEO tip: you could write a short blog for each photo, add the link to your Instagram pic and share the blog on your other social media accounts!)
  6. Build your Instagram followers
  7. Support National Psychotherapy Day

NB: this is also open to counsellors, social workers and psychologists 🙂

National Psychotherapy Day Photo-A-Day Prompts

National Psychotherapy Day 2017 Photo-A-Day Prompts. Image credit: Jodie Gale

 About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

Top 25 Psychotherapy Blogs in 2017

I am super excited to receive an email today notifying me that my blog is featured in the Top 25 Psychotherapy Blogs of 2017. I am passionate about writing regarding the benefits of depth psychotherapy so this is such an honour.

The list was compiled by the British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute.

About the British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute:

“They believe passionately that high quality hypnosis training, offers trainees the chance to be much more successful in the field of psychology, psychotherapy and counselling. For more than 30 years they have made a commitment to training people from all over the world in these skills and techniques and to date they have trained over 6000 people from 40 countries. This unique approach developed by the British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute has established them as pioneers in the hypnotherapy training field.

The British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute was originally founded at the University of Cambridge in 1979 as a research association. In 1986 they decided there was a need to provide an ethical and professional vocational training and qualification to people seriously interested in training in this rewarding field and they were the first organisation to teach Ericksonian Hypnosis courses in Europe. Their combined International ‘Hypnosis University Summer School’ and online distance learning training and has evolved from the respected training courses established by them in many British hospitals and universities over this time.

British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute courses take place in central London at Birkbeck College in the University of London and are dedicated to teaching international health professionals and new students of hypnosis, psychotherapy and personal development, the theory, skills and methodology of Indirect Hypnosis combined with Ericksonian Psychotherapy and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Their comprehensive BHRTI course curriculum is based on the unique combination of these three leading edge disciplines and leads to the award of the International BHRTI Practitioner Diploma in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and Counselling and an Online Diploma in the Theory and Principles of Hypnotherapy and Counselling.”

Reference: About Us

About Jodie


Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

Over the last 15 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

After by Nikki Gemmell

Nikki Gemmell started writing After, the day she found out that her mother had ended her own life.

Many of the reviews focus on the obvious topics of death and dying  – but for me, this book was more about the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship , early childhood emotional neglect, emotional abuse and trauma, and the struggle to separate and individuate from early childhood wounding.

Working with women in therapy, and with a wide range of concerns, exploring and healing the mother-daughter relationship is always part of our work together. Narcissistic wounding is often at the core. By this I mean, the daughter is not seen in her own light and her emotional, psychological and spiritual needs were not met, often because the mother’s needs were also not met.

Nikki Gemmell does a wonderful job of writing about these issues and I love that she has found a creative space to ‘see’ herself. It takes guts, authenticity, vulnerability and courage to write a book like this!

This memoir is a must for anyone interested in delving deeper into the psyche of the mother-daughter relationship.

If you would like to know more, grab a copy of After and watch Nikki on Australian Story.

About Jodie


Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

Over the last 15 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

20 Powerful Books to Help You Befriend Your Body

Do you remember the last time you felt at home in your body?

Increasingly, many of us feel a sense of alienation, disconnection, a lack of safety, and insecurity within our bodies. At the core, this sense of dis-ease can often be the result of early childhood attachment and interpersonal ruptures, emotional neglect and/or trauma. In The Body Keeps the Score – a powerful book for befriending the body, Bessel van der Kolk writes,

“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”

This profound sense of disconnection from our deeper selves is the underlying force and a major contributing factor to a myriad of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual disturbances and symptoms, including: addictions, anxiety, depression, food, body and weight concerns, eating disorders, health problems, a lack of self-worth, and relationship issues. Van der Kolk goes on to say…

“…child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and suicide.”

In The Body Never Lies,  Alice Miller writes,

“Frequently, physical illnesses are the body’s response to permanent disregard of its vital functions. One of our most vital functions is an ability to listen to the true story of our own lives.”

When we don’t listen to the true story of our own lives – via our body, feelings, mind and soul – our deeper self will continue to call us through our symptoms. Our symptoms often seek to be seen and heard until we become conscious, pay attention and take action. One way we can do that, is to befriend our bodies.

Here are 20 powerful books which can help us to deepen our relationship with, and befriend our bodies.

The recommendations here are from psychotherapists and health professionals from around the globe, and who are helping their clients heal the split between soma and soul.

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) by Jonice Webb, Ph.D.

If you are self-medicating with food, have body-blame and shame, they may be linked to childhood emotional neglect (CEN).

This is an excellent book to start the journey of becoming friends with your body by increasing self-awareness and healing internal wounds caused by childhood emotional neglect.

The first part of the book helps you to understand how different parenting styles may lead to childhood emotional neglect. This is not to blame parents but to help you to understand your experience. Dr Webb lists symptoms often experienced by individuals whose parental figure(s) have not been emotionally available when growing up. She then gives suggestions and exercises for helping you to understand your emotions and start healing from CEN.

I really enjoyed this book that acknowledges the impact of childhood emotional neglect which is often difficult to understand because it looks at an absence of something rather than a traumatic event. The use of case examples really brings to life the impact of different parenting styles on emotional well-being and it provides great tools for increasing self-awareness. I have recommended this book to many professionals and clients.

Dr Mari Kovanen, Counselling Psychologist, London, UK

TOUCH The Neurobiology of Health, Healing, and Human Connection by Michael Changaris, Psy.D.

With safe contained touch, a child can begin to orient to the world and integrate proprioception and other sensations.

Touch plays an important role in our ability to self regulate because, along with sensation, it is our first language. The parent cannot always provide exactly what a child needs and this will ultimately create ruptures. Constant ruptures without repair can shrinks a person’s innate capacity to occupy their body and be able to feel and regulate their emotions. As adults, this inevitably leads to difficulty in relating and connecting safely with others.

This book highlights touch from many perspectives, some of which include culture, attachment theory, and the mental health arena. It also offers some helpful tools and homework. The author explains how touch can transform a person’s fight / flight response through engaging their ventral vagal system, which is not dissimilar from a mother’s containment when holding her baby.

The author credits many influences, highlighting Allan Schore & Peter Levine as his teachers along with Bessel Van der Kolk, Steven Porges and Robert Scare as some of the leaders in this field. I enjoyed how easily Dr. Changaris has woven in quality research that validates how touch is vital for human health and healing. For me this book is for those who want a deeper insight into the benefits of touch and its broader applications in a therapeutic context.

Amanda Howe, Somatic Experiencing, Relational and Body Psychotherapist – St Leonards and Mona Vale, Sydney, Australia

I Know I’m in There Somewhere by Helene G Brenner, Ph.D.

A woman’s guide to finding her inner voice and living a life of authenticity.

Many of us, without even realising we’re doing it, adapt ourselves to fit around the important others in our life (and even around what the media tell us we ‘should’ be like). It’s such an accepted part of being a woman, that the process can be almost invisible.

But the trouble is, that in the process of being (or trying to be) who others think you should be, you may feel like you’ve lost touch with who you actually are, what you feel, and what you really want in life. This book offers a new approach to understanding yourself, and helps you figure out what ‘being yourself’ actually means. Brenner teaches you how to use self-acceptance and awareness of body-based feelings, so that you can learn how to identify, trust and follow your true inner wisdom and guidance.

You’ll learn how to make friends with your body and your inner self, access your spirituality and your emotions, and live a life that feels real and truthful to the messy, glorious and unique reality of who you are.

Emma Cameron, Integrative Arts Psychotherapist – Colchester, UK

Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams by Eugene T. Gendlin

This is an excellent guide for those who are just beginning to work with their dreams as well as those who are more experienced and familiar with dream interpretation. The book consists of 16 questions that support the dreamer in the process of interpreting their dreams.  Dr. Gendlin breaks down how to ask each question so that your body responds.  By paying attention to your body’s responses you can discern 1) if you are connecting with the dream’s meaning; and 2) interpret what the dream is trying to tell you.

What I like best about this book is how Dr. Gendlin clearly and simply outlines the process of dream interpretation while still honoring the complexity and numinosity of dreams. This is why this is the top book I recommend for dream interpretation.  This book will resonate with 1) anyone who would like to learn how to interpret their dreams, and 2) those who would like to connect more deeply with their bodies and intuitive abilities.

Lourdes Viado Ph.D, Marriage and Family Therapist and Creator of Women In-Depth Podcast.

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA.

If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it. – Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

Intuitive Eating is a book and program developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

Intuitive Eating focuses on 10 principles designed to help us make peace with food. It takes away the guilt and shame associated with certain food choices. It gives skills to start paying attention to the body, in particular, our hunger and fullness.

These principles help you respect your body and nurture yourself with food instead of using it for reward or punishment. The principles normalize the urges around overeating and goes into the science behind our relationship with food.

This book helped me to befriend my body, it changed my life and I use it with every single client!

Michelle Lewis, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Owner/Therapist at Salt Lake Weight Counseling – Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Fat Yoga by Sarah Harry

All bodies are yoga bodies. – Sarah Harry

Yoga as a practice is over 4000 years old and the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits are countless.

This is a yoga book written by a fat yogini for all people who struggle to feel at home in the current yoga culture! Yoga is not just for teeny tiny bendy young things! It’s for everyone.

This book is to bring yoga to those who don’t look like the people on the cover of a yoga mag. Covering everything from “do real yogi’s drink wine” to “how do I stop my boobs from smooshing me” so you can get on with the important business of feeling more at home in your body.

It’s practical, straight talking and easy to follow advice about how to practice yoga and get into and out of postures at any size, leaving you with the skills to build a sustainable yoga practice in your own home.

This is the ultimate resource for those wanting to befriend their body through yoga!

Sarah Harry, Counsellor, Lecturer, Researcher, Yoga Teacher and Author. Sarah is also the co-director of Body Positive Australia – Melbourne, Australia

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Lindy West packs no punches when talking about what it’s like to be fat in a fat-shaming society.

Shrill is not a self-help book, but it will help anyone who struggles with befriending their body. West’s style is especially perfect for young women who will totally get on board with her language, manner, and the internet world she knows so well.

You may already know of West’s public storms with colleagues, comedy, and internet trolls, but the linking narrative between all these events, beginning with her childhood, is a sharp, funny and honest look at herself and the society we live in. You can literally feel the hurts and triumphs jumping off the page as she implores you to look through her eyes and experience the world as she does: a woman who is ‘not normal’ and refuses to be quiet about it. I could certainly relate.

The most extraordinary aspect of travelling away from ‘waiting to be thin’, is how she actions it. I was transfixed and inspired by the myriad of ways she exposes herself to fatness, and in the process teaches us all that we can, simply, choose what is beautiful:

“I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin = better—that I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman. I am not going to waste another second of my life thinking about this.”  

I can’t promise that I won’t waste another second Lindy, but I sure am gonna try!

Nicole Hind,  Online Counsellor – Australia

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. – Brené Brown.   

Daring Greatly is Brené Brown’s third book and in my opinion her most powerful. In this book she explores our relationship with society’s scarcity culture, vulnerability and shame. In the current landscape of ‘never good enough, thin enough, young and beautiful enough’, Daring Greatly offers some practical ways of fighting back shame, and ways of nurturing your authentic self. She offers skills on how to practice shame resilience and how to befriend your body. The idea of stepping into the arena that runs through book is visceral and enticing. Brené really gets you connected to your body and to the idea that it is possible to show up, be seen, and live brave.

Andrea Szasz, Clinical Psychotherapist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner & Trauma Specialist – Bondi & Crows Nest, Sydney, Australia

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment by Pat Ogden & Janina Fisher 

The title may sound heavy and dry but this book is actually a treasure trove of information into befriending the body.

It contains insights into how our bodies hold memory and emotions. Ogden and Fisher teach us how to listen to the innate wisdom of our body, through being mindful of our bodily sensations.  Written as both a self-help and professional manual, it contains countless, practical exercises focused on befriending the body.  Such exercises guide us in: being mindful of our bodily sensations, appreciating our strengths, identifying how to support ourselves creatively, learning to ground and centre ourselves, breath work and body postures.

The entire book is really about tuning into the wisdom of our own body, in order to connect more fully with ourselves and in turn, others. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by their emotions, disconnected from themselves or others, anxious or depressed, or simply unsure of who they are.  Working through this book, helps to bring the whole of ourselves back into balance.

Toni Jackson, Psychotherapist & Counsellor – Perth, Western Australia

The Chakra Book: Energy and Healing Power of the Subtle Body by Osho

The word Chakra means moving wheel; points of whirling energy – close to our bodies.

According to many Eastern Spiritual traditions, chakras are recognised spiritual energy points that exist in the field just beyond our body in and around our aura. These centres are recognised in a variety of spiritual traditions and are known to exist beyond the physical plane. They exist in the ‘space between’ – ourselves and another – in the space beyond the actual physical body and exist in what some call the etheric body.

This book was an intriguing read and provides a deeper understanding of the following:

  • the relevance of spirituality and using the eastern traditions within psychotherapy
  • Japanese, Hindi and Buddhist understanding of the chakras
  • the subtle body experiences Kundalini and Tantra
  • chakra meditations which are particularly helpful for points of stuckness in body or mind
  • the healing power of chakra balancing

This wisdom can assist us to ensure we remain of right mind, have a healthy body and heart and live long and happy lives.

Ultimately, Osho encourages us to listen to our bodies and hearts – when we do this, we can’t go wrong!

Renee McDonald, Counsellor, Psychotherapist & Coach – Bulli, Australia

Wired For Love – How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build A Secure Relationship by Dr. Stan Tatkin

Understand your brain, improve your relationships.

As a relationship therapist with 20 years of practice behind me, I almost always recommend this book to couples because Wired for Love intelligently lifts the lid on how couples relate, offers innovative ways of understanding what’s actually happening in our brain, body, feelings and mind, and how to make the changes needed to get things back on track.

The book is all about bringing mindfulness and consciousness to our relationships and gaining an appreciation of how our brains operate in conflict. Our nervous system plays an important part in how couples “fight” and this book discusses some simple things like using our breath to calm our cardiovascular and respiratory systems so that arguments can be worked through “safely” and without threat.

For example, couples that have an awareness of how they soothe each other through touch, words, facial expression and body to body contact on greeting, can transform the nature of conflicts and learn to “fight fair”.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of how their body and brain impact their relationships, and who want to be able to say and express what they need, yet still create a safe environment for their relationships to grow.

Melissa Ferrari, Psychotherapist & Relationship Therapist – Penrith, Sydney, Australia

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

We might begin by scanning our body . . . and then asking, “What is happening?” We might also ask, “What wants my attention right now?” or, “What is asking for acceptance? – Tara Brach

Radical Acceptance is an incredible book filled with wisdom from Tara Brach, who is not only a clinical psychologist but a meditation teacher as well.

This book is for anyone struggling with feelings of perpetual “unworthiness”.

Brach does a wonderful job of weaving in advice and guidance, personal antidotes from her own life and her work with her clients, along with guided meditations on self-acceptance and getting in touch with one’s true feelings (which may have been somatised in the body).

I have recommended this book to many of my clients in my own psychotherapy practice, and their response after reading this book is often, “I feel like she is saying exactly what I say to myself”. The idea of general unworthiness is an underlying thought that so many of us have, and it often leads to destructive behaviours such as eating disorders, addictions, and self-harm.

This book gently guides the reader to feel and accept their feelings, forgive themselves, and move in a direction of self-acceptance.

Radical Acceptance has proved to be extremely useful and effective in my practice working with people with eating disorders, as well as for myself, and my own journey towards befriending my body and cultivating qualities of self-love and self acceptance.

Melissa Preston, Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Dietitian – Denver, Colorado, USA

Rushing Woman’s Syndrome by Libby Weaver

Stop the rush and come home to your body.

Do you regularly find yourself tired but wired? Constantly rushing around to give more, do more be more and yet enough is never enough? Deep down you probably know you can’t sustain this pace for too much longer and your body is starting to give signals that enough is enough. If this is you, you’re not alone. I see this situation played out woman after woman in my practice. The woman’s mind is saying “I must”, and yet the woman’s body is saying, “no more!” New Zealand biochemist Dr Libby Weaver addresses this issue brilliantly in her book Rushing Woman’s Syndrome. She helps us as women to understand that more rushing dose not equal a happier life, in fact it’s a recipe for stress, anxiety and ultimately, if ignored long enough, sickness and disease.

This book was inspired by the struggle Libby saw in her practice that so many women are facing in juggling multiple roles and the internal and external demands to achieve and to please everyone. This book will give you clear, practical advice in how to get off the rush treadmill.  She gives us an experts tour of our bodies and the impacts the constant push-pull a frantic pace of life has on our health and well-being and offers a way out of the rush to come back home to the body. This book, in my view, is a must read for every modern women who is constantly feeling the pressure to do it all and yet longs for well-being, tranquillity and the ability to feel at peace in her own skin. I recommend this book to every one of my female clients who is looking to have a better relationship with herself and her body.

Marcia Watts, Relationships & Wellbeing Counsellor – Brisbane, Australia

The Language of Fertility: A Revolutionary Mind-Body Program for Conscious Conception by Niravi Payne, M.S

The mind and the emotions have the power to affect the body. – Niravi Payne.

From the minute an individual or couple is dianosed with ’infertility’, they are usurped into a medical whirlwind of tests and medical procedures. Little time is afforded for couples to stop and reflect on the deeper issues arising from their diagnosis or the underlying issues which may be interfering with their ability to conceive.

This soulful book explores the emotional and psychological factors that can be a barrier to conception. It delves deeply into family dynamics and generational beliefs and behaviours which may be impacting a couple’s inability to conceive.

The exercises in this book will help the reader to befriend the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns that they may be struggling with around their fertility.

This is a hopeful book, which offers a mind-body approach to fertility and conscious conception. It is a must read for anyone struggling with fertility issues, and is a great accompaniement for those going through assisted conception and IVF treatment.

Robyn Wunder, Gestalt Psychotherapist and the founder of Donor Conception Counselling.

Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication by Paul Ekman

Emotions; we all have them, and sometimes we can be overwhelmed with the raw power of the things that we feel.

When this happens, we can feel confused, isolated and detached; even at war with ourselves. These strong emotions can be experienced within our minds, but given the close relationship between emotions and the body, the effect of these strong emotions can often be felt as overwhelming forces within our bodies as well.

Ekman, through helping us understand our emotions, grants us the prospect of coming to peace within ourselves. His book gives great insight into how our emotions develop, how they are expressed – and what we can do about them. His research over 20 years is notable for his focus on how emotion affects our bodies. When we better understand what we feel in our minds and our bodies and why we feel it, we are in a better position to accept, forgive and befriend ourselves. A critical part of this is how we can use this increased understanding to ultimately accept, forgive and befriend our bodies.

Tim Hill, Counsellor & Psychotherapist. Tim is also the founder of Beyond Porn Addiction  – Richmond, Victoria, Australia

Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon

You only have one body and despite how well you live your life, it may never change. Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life? – Linda Bacon

This book is a must read for anyone who has ever been on a diet or who is a health professional telling others how to lose weight.  It is not another diet book. In fact, it is the opposite.  Linda recommends ditching the diet and learning to listen to and trust our own body wisdom.  Even better… the book advocates no more deprivation and no more guilt.  Sounds like a dream come true right?  Maybe too good to be true but in fact the Health at Every Size Programme (HAES) is based on a USA Government funded academic study.  In other words it’s science based and proven to work.

The book is in two parts. Part 1 is designed to educate & debunk many of the common weight loss myths.  The author, Dr Linda Bacon (PhD) provides logical & easy to follow reasoning which just makes perfect sense in explaining why dieting just doesn’t work.  Our bodies are actually geared to resist weight loss.  Part 2 of the book provides simple, practical step to help change your mindset and embrace the HAES principles into your life while re-introducing pleasure in food and saying goodbye to guilt, deprivation and diets.

It truly is a revelation & I now have it on the top of my list of recommended books for my clients with weight & body image concerns.

Pam Bailey, Feel Good Facilitator – Perth, Australia

The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup

Menopause is actually about coming home to yourself. – Christiane Northrup

This book was my bible while going through menopause and it is still a resource I check out every now and then. Initially, I thought I would read from the beginning to the end –  I started to do that but different symptoms kept popping up. In the end, I found the best way was to have the symptom and look it up, because things were happening too fast to read it from cover to cover.

I’d apparently been pre-menopausal for years but my doctor didn’t inform me of that. My husband was the first to notice the change in my mood – he thought I was manic/depressive. My moods must have driven him crazy! Like most women, my mother had never told me what menopause was like and I wasn’t prepared for the miserable stage of life I had found myself in. I was in a bookstore one day and this book practically jumped off the shelf at me.

The Wisdom of Menopause has 14 chapters, with fabulous titles. These are a few: Menopause Puts Your Life Under a Microscope; The Brain Catches Fire at Menopause; Nurturing Your Brain, Sleep, Depression and Memory; Sex and Menopause- Myths and Reality.

This book is packed with practical information on how to befriend the body and simple explanations on how to make changes to lifestyle. My life was changed forever!

I highly recommend this book to all women and their daughters. Read it as a book club, read it with friends, don’t be afraid of menopause, make it your friend and live the life you deserve.

Cait Wotherspoon, Psychotherapist Specialising in Grief, Loss and Bereavement  – Penrith, Sydney, Australia

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling by Dr. Anita Johnston Ph.D.

Recovery from disordered eating calls for a new way of relating to our femail bodies, one that honors and values what they have to offer us. It requires that we appreciate what it means to come into the body of a woman. – Anita Johnston.

Dr Anita Johnston discusses a range of concerns related to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating through the creative use of myths and storytelling.  This is not your usual self-help book – it is much deeper than that – it is full of soul!

Clients often comment that this book helped them not only to befriend their bodies and change their relationship with food, but it also helped them to transform their lives.

The chapters are short and since much of the book is told through myths or stories, it is much easier to relate to than a dry, medical book about these topics.

It’s hard to articulate how powerful the chapters are but trust me – review after review also states similar sentiments.  I feel this is the best book out there for women to explore the relationship they have with food and their body.

Megan Bearce, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist – Minneapolis, MN, USA

Sweat Your Prayers: The Five Rhythms of the Soul — Movement as Spiritual Practice by Gabrielle Roth

5Rhythms is a dynamic movement practice—a practice of being in your body—that ignites creativity, connection, and community. – Gabrielle Roth.

In Sweat Your Prayers, Gabrielle Roth, provides the reader with a deeper understanding of her dance practice, 5 Rhythms, which is a combination of psychology, spirituality and body movement. She offers a journey through the five universal rhythms: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. Roth teaches us how the rhythms can free the body and spirit from ordinary realms and generate motion deep within the psyche. Each sacred rhythm is a teacher and a gateway to the soul.

This book is full of wisdom for befriending your body and healing the mind-body split. Once you have read Sweat Your Prayers, find a class near you!

Kylie Beatie, Managing Director at Byron Private Holistic Treatment Centre – Byron Bay, Australia

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass

…To fully heal, this release needs to happen in your body as well. – Ellen Bass

The Courage to Heal and the accompanying workbooks have been an invaluable resource to all the woman survivors of child sexual abuse that I have known, and, unfortunately, there are many. Throughout the book, stories of fellow survivors assure women that that they are not alone, and that healing is possible.

The chapter on “Learning to Live in Your Body” includes the relationship among body, mind and spirit, and exercises on moving from hating your body to befriending your body; how to come back into your body when you’ve been triggered; grounding; and moving from numbness to feeling, among others. I highly recommend this book.

Renee Beck, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Clinical Consultant & Supervisor – Oakland, California, USA

Women, Food & God Coloring Book by Geneen Roth

The problem isn’t that we have bodies; the problem is that we are not living in them. Sigh. – Geneen Roth.

Having attended a week-long retreat with Geneen in 2016, I just had to share her first colouring in book!

The Women Food and God Coloring Book is full of enchanting black and white illustrations to colour in, relax and integrate the wisdom of Geneen’s #1 New York Times bestseller, Women, Food & God.

Many people who struggle with addictions and eating disorders often act out when they are angry, anxious, bored, sad or stressed. I love that this book is a practical tool which can used for self-soothing and self-care. It is also a guide for deeper contemplation and discovery of what is going on beneath the symptoms and at a deeper soul level.

For anyone suffering with food, weight and body image concerns, this book will help you to befriend your body (and soul).

Jodie Gale, Blog Author, Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Private Practice Business Coach – Allambie, Frenchs Forest & Manly, Sydney, Australia

About Jodie

Jodie’s journey to become a soul-centred psychotherapist + eating psychology specialist began with her own recovery from bulimia over 20 years ago. She now works in private practice in Sydney, Australia and is the Disordered Eating Consultant for Byron Private Holistic Treatment Centre and former Assistant Clinical Director of a Sydney Eating Disorder Outpatient Treatment Program in consultation with Dr Anita Johnston. Jodie’s extensive work experience in the eating disorder field includes stints at the Eating Disorder Association of NSW (now The Butterfly Foundation) and in the Eating Disorder and Feeding Unit of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. She regularly appears online, in print and on National radio regarding her work with women and disordered eating. Jodie’s first eBook, ‘Befriending Your Body’ will be out later this year – sign up here to be the first to receive a free copy.

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