Appearance related anxiety – and tool which is helping people post-lockdown

After more than a year of restrictions, many people are apprehensive about socialising freely again. But for people with visible differences, and those who suffer appearance related anxiety, that thought might be particularly distressing.

Now the University of Plymouth and charity Changing Faces are promoting a ‘life-changing’ programme called [email protected] to help people manage any appearance-related distress and anxiety.

Visible differences can range from cleft lip and burns to mastectomy or limb amputation.

The self-guided online tool, [email protected], helps people manage any appearance-related distress and anxiety using a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach.

It started out life as FaceIT in 2012, and required referral from a health professional. Now the newly accessible online version has been warmly welcomed by charities and those living with visible differences.

[email protected] and the earlier, offline version were developed by Dr Alyson Norman, Associate Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Plymouth, in conjunction with the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol and Changing Faces.

Dr Alyson Norman, who co-designed [email protected], said:

“Appearance is so fundamental to our everyday interactions – studies have shown that people make decisions about us in the first 10 seconds of meeting us. It amazes me how far we’ve come with the program and knowing there are people like Alistair that have used it, found it helpful, and it’s brought them out of themselves to the point where they can engage socially is fantastic. Overall the feeling is that we’ve provided people with a lifeline to move forward socially and psychologically, which is amazing.”

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