Dr. Shelia Addison joins me to discuss her personal journey around body acceptance as well as her clinical work with folks in a variety of marginalized bodies.
Raised by a feminist single mother in the Midwest, Dr. Sheila Addison, LMFT was taught early on that women deserve equal opportunities. In her training as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Dr. Addison expanded her perspective on social justice to include intersections of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, weight, and more. She earned her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University where she developed and co-taught one of the first academic courses covering LGBT issues in family therapy. Currently, she heads Margin to Center Consulting which encompasses her private practice and supervision and cultural competency trainings for mental health professionals. She provides diversity and inclusion support, including the Ally Skills Workshop, to corporate, academic, and community clients. She lives in Oakland, California where her private practice, focused on couples and relationships, is also located. In 2018 she was named “Best Psychotherapist in the East Bay” by the East Bay Express.
- Using anti-oppressive and feminist practices in her work
- The psychotherapy world still has a very conventional, very medicalized view of larger bodies
- Restricting, self-policing, denying and disconnecting from the body are all things that are encouraged in women and those assigned female at birth
- Her introduction into fat acceptance with the fatshonista blog
- The more images she saw of people in larger bodies the more her perspective started to shift in terms of how she viewed her own body
- A television show on ABC called “Huge” and how that show helped change what looked “normal” to her
- Helping clients view their bodies with more neutral descriptions
- Helping clients shift their “inner eye” when they assess their bodies
- How we view our bodies is relational and social
- Her clients teach her as well and this is her favorite part of being a therapist
- If your body changes, what else will you be self-critical about?
- Letting go of the fantasy of body change actually can help folks maintain health-promoting behaviors
- Health is multi-dimensional, rather than just being about what the scale says
- Asking yourself “How does it feel to live in my body?”
- The disability rights movement helps us acknowledge that not all bodies have the same access and potential
- People of color and black feminists theorists show us how body possibilities are racialized
- Intentionally having images of higher weight bodies on her website
Links & Resources
Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon