Dr. Beverly Pedroche (Psychologist) on Cosmetic Procedures
Studies have identified two primary reasons for making aesthetic changes to your appearance, the first being to raise self-esteem and the second to improve self-image. As the number of cosmetic procedures increases and will probably continue, we wanted to take a deeper dive. We had the honor of interviewing Dr. Beverly Pedroche.
Dr. Pedroche is a clinical psychologist who primarily utilizes Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a collaborative, present-based form of talk therapy that focuses on solutions, challenging distorted cognitions, and changing destructive patterns of behavior. Dr. Pedroche received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rowan University, Master of Science, and her Doctorate of Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She has an established private practice in Boca Raton, FL.
Let’s start with the fundamental question: What would you tell a client who wants to have a cosmetic procedure?
As a psychologist, I do more questioning/asking, what we call exploring, than telling. My primary question for a patient considering a cosmetic procedure is “why?” If the response involves anyone other than themselves (for example, “so my significant other is more attracted to me” or “because my mother always said that I would be pretty if only I had a smaller nose”), I encourage more therapeutic work before proceeding. A cosmetic procedure is not a cure for low self-image.
What’s the difference between someone who is looking to have a procedure and body dysmorphia? How can you detect if they’re doing it for the wrong reasons?
Many people experience a degree of dissatisfaction with their physical appearance. Body Dysmorphic Disorder, however, is a severe mental illness that involves:
- A preoccupation or obsession with a physical feature that they perceive as flawed, yet the “flaw” is not observable or really appears slight to other people.
- A history of repetitive behaviors focused on the perceived flaw. These behaviors might include mirror checking, efforts to hide the perceived deficit, or excessively grooming.
- A significant impact on a person’s functioning. For example, they may spend excessive money on procedures and never feel sufficiently satisfied with the outcome. They may negatively impact their relationships by frequently seeking reassurance about their appearance, or people with BDD may avoid social situations due to anticipated rejection or being mocked.
As a psychologist, I look at how much time the person spends on their perceived flaw (thinking about it and trying to fix or hide it) and how these thoughts and behaviors affect their functioning. Some questions I ask are, “About how much time do you spend each day thinking about your appearance or trying to improve your appearance?” or “Do these concerns interfere with your life or cause problems in any way?” or “What efforts do you make to conceal the concern?”
What can patients do to help them decide on having a procedure?
I encouraged patients to really think about their motivation and their expectations. If a patient feels pretty good about themselves on the inside and wants the outside to match, go for it!
How do you define beauty?
When I reflect on the people I perceive as beautiful, I realize that physically they have little in common. But what they do have in common is that they prioritize self-care. For some, that may mean facials, manicures, and marathons, but for others, it may mean a consistent eight hours of sleep, therapy, and meditation. People who prioritize self-care glow from within. They tend not to be as exhausted or resentful; they are calmer to be with and are naturally attractive to others.
What is the one beauty tip you learned from a loved one, and who is that person?
I have a self-learned, less-conventional beauty tip – exercise! I am not the person who loves exercise, but I do it, in part, because no matter how I perform, by the end of my workout, despite no makeup, a dirty ponytail, being sweaty and stinky… I feel like a beautiful badass!
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