What Is Naked Therapy?
By: Robert Porter
Updated November 11, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
It is not all that unusual for someone to be shy about their body. Many people feel very inhibited about certain things, and this can make it difficult for some people to connect with others on an intimate level. When people are so self-conscious about their body that it makes it impossible to have a romantic relationship, this can be problematic. Everyone deserves to be happy, but sometimes there are mental and emotional barriers preventing a true connection with others.
There are various types of therapy and counseling that people can turn to for help. Often, the problems that are causing people to shut themselves off from others are related to mental disorders or some type of emotional trauma that they experienced in the past. Going through a therapy session is one way to help move forward when you have issues with your own body. Some people will find that traditional therapy is not working as well as they had hoped, so they turn to unique therapy methods.
One interesting but somewhat obscure therapy method is known as naked therapy. It may have some merit for certain people, so it is worth educating yourself about what it is and its potential benefits.
Understanding What Naked Therapy Is
To gain a true understanding of naked therapy, you need to go back to its roots. This field of psychological study began back in the 1930s. Groups of psychologists began studying the effects of social nudity on people's lives. There were at least some people who identified as naturists that were able to act as a sort of focus group for various observation.
One psychologist, in particular, began studying nudism very carefully. In 1932, a Princeton psychologist named Howard Warren spent some time at a German nudist camp to make observations. A year after having this experience, Warren published a paper entitled "Social Nudism and the Body Taboo." In this paper, Warren noted that there were potential psychological benefits to nudism such as ridding people of their self-conscious nature and being able to make friends with others more readily.
Eventually, the actual practice of naked therapy began to pop up. In the late sixties and throughout the seventies, some psychotherapists practiced what was known as nude psychotherapy. Many of these therapy sessions were group therapy sessions that involved many people baring their all in front of one another. Those who lead these therapy sessions theorized that the element of nudity might help people to build bonds and trusting relationships with one another faster.
As you might expect, this type of therapy does not come without controversy. As the politics and social norms of the time began to shift, this type of therapy fell out of the limelight completely. It was never really all that common, but eventually, it seemingly disappeared for a long period. If there were any practitioners of naked therapy during the 1980s and 1990s, then they would have been doing so in private and without advertising it.
Does Naked Therapy Still Exist?
Naked therapy does still exist in some forms. Sarah White practices naked therapy online to help her patients and has gained some notoriety for it. She seeks to help her patients with a form of naked therapy that includes several other counseling and therapeutic methods.
All of her therapy methods have the added element of nudity to help the patients to open up. It allows patients to gain further insights while being more honest with themselves.
Sarah White has managed to become so synonymous with the term "naked therapy" that she has trademarked the term "Naked Therapy." All other forms of nude therapy that are spoken about here will differ at least somewhat from the personal brand of therapy that she practices. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and is currently pursuing a master's degree.
The fact that she is formally educated does not mean that she is licensed to practice therapy. In fact, White practices her brand of Naked Therapy without any type of license. Despite this, many men go to her for help with their body issues, sexual frustrations, depression, and many other issues. She sees the nude aspect of this therapy to be a key component in allowing people to open up.
There is a certain level of vulnerability that people feel when they are naked in front of another person. This is an interesting therapy method that does indeed create a unique dynamic between the patient and the naked therapist. Sometimes arousal is a part of the therapy process and coming to terms with certain feelings while being honest may be a part of the therapy. Many people have had success when it comes to opening up to others and becoming more self-confident through therapy methods like this.
It is important to point out that very few studies have been performed on this type of therapy in modern times. For this reason, it is tough to say whether or not this therapy is completely viable for all people. It is certainly a bit more experimental than many people will be comfortable with. Even so, it has proven popular among White's clients, and many find it to be quite empowering.
The Potential Benefits Of Naked Therapy
The potential benefits of naked therapy are various. If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, you have to understand that this is not a common form of therapy that you can seek out at any time. It is unlikely that any therapists near you practice anything similar to this. Your only recourse may be to seek out White's online version of the therapy. Unless this form of therapy goes through a resurgence in popularity, then it will always be seen as incredibly niche.
Be that as it may, many people who have experienced nude therapy tout its various benefits. For instance, being naked in front of a therapist and talking about your problems can create a unique connection. Many people find that they have an easier time being able to connect with the therapist while being honest with themselves. The nudity acts as a way to tear down barriers, and it has been an effective tool for some.
This is also a way for people to grow more comfortable with being naked in front of someone else. Some people seek this type of therapy due to having severe body issues. People who are ashamed or embarrassed by their bodies may think that no one would ever want to see them in the nude. The nude therapy sessions can make it feel more natural for patients to accept their bodies and might give them the necessary courage to be nude in front of their significant others.
The sexual nature of therapy like this is hard to deny. Even though the therapy is not necessarily about sex, many people will seek out the therapy to help them with sexual hang-ups. The nude therapist will likely speak to patients about normal problems in a traditional way that is similar to other therapy sessions. It just turns into something unique due to the aspect of nudity being introduced.
Patients may be able to enjoy improved self-confidence, low levels of inhibition, an improved ability to open up to others, and many other positive benefits. Regardless, it is also important to understand that mileage will vary. Some people will find success with this method of therapy and others will find the nudity to be too off-putting for them to move forward. The effectiveness of this therapy depends on the needs of the patient and the overall willingness of the patient to commit to the process.
Many people will be better served by seeking out a therapist who provides therapy using traditional methods. Even if the problems that you are experiencing are sexual in nature or if they have to do with your body, traditional therapy may be able to help. You will have to determine whether or not the nudity being a part of the therapy is important to you.
Traditional Therapy Methods May Help You Out
If the idea of naked therapy seems like a bit too much for you to handle, then you may wish to try a more traditional approach. If you are shy about your body or are having certain issues with self-confidence, then counseling sessions can be beneficial. Taking the time to see a therapist is going to allow you to work on your issues. If there are things that are holding you back from truly connecting with others, you will be able to work with a therapist at a pace that you are comfortable with.
Up to 91% of all women report feeling unhappy with their bodies. Many men feel the same way. This has the potential to hold these people back in life. If your negative body image has harmed your self-esteem, then seeking therapy might help. Therapists who are trained in body image issues will understand what it is like to have these thoughts and know how difficult it is to get through the day when you're feeling so low. Your therapist will act as your ally and help you to combat negative thoughts surrounding your body.
How BetterHelp Can Support You
Overcoming your body issues is not always easy, but you can rely on a trusted therapist to be there for you. Working little by little on your issues will allow you to gain confidence. You can become comfortable with yourself and in turn, have a better quality of life. Whether you are looking for help to connect with a special someone or you just want to work on things for yourself, therapy is a sound option.
You do not even actually have to see a therapist in-person. Online therapists are available. Being able to get the therapy that you want from the comfort of your own home and on your schedule is as convenient as it gets. More information is available about how an online counselor can help you address your body image issues.
“Dana and I worked to [sic] together for 4 months, and it was a great experience. Dana listened to my goals for therapy, she took a holistic approach that included body, emotion and mind, and held no judgement (I struggle with body image and have been working hard to not fight my body). I felt supported by Dana, and was able to move forward and reach my goals. Which leads me to sharing something that was a first for me: with Dana's support and encouragement, I have just completed therapy (for the time being). I know that there will be times in my life when therapy will again be a wonderful resource, and I appreciate that Dana was the one to note that I had reached my goals, and maybe it was time to fly solo.”
“I've been working with Christine for a few months now and can honestly say I'm in a much, much better place than I was when I started. After my dad passed away when I was 20, I was feeling overwhelmed and like a ticking time bomb. I knew I should speak to someone, but was afraid of not being understood. Christine is an amazing listener asks great questions, but will also (kindly) challenge you when exhibiting harmful or self-deprecating behavior or tendencies. The "homework" Christine gives is very helpful in keeping me focused on what I'm trying to work on throughout the week, and I find our calls to be really structured and productive as a result. I've worked on everything from grief to relationship issues and body/self-confidence with Christine and she's been extremely helpful in guiding me through all of it.”
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