Making Peace with Our Bodies: A Compassion-Focused Skills Group for Body Image Concerns

In this online 8-week course you will:

  • Gain an understanding around why you may be struggling with negative body image and self-criticism as well as some associated safety strategies
  • Learn how compassion may help you work with these experiences
  • Build a capacity for compassion by contacting your soothing system
  • Develop compassion for your body, yourself and others you may struggle with in the process
  • Develop self-compassion and learn to practice it in moments of struggle with your body

This course is for you if you are:

  • an adult (18+) struggling with negative body image and its associated difficulties (e.g., disordered eating, social anxiety)
  • are self-critical towards your body
    ***NOTE: This course is open to people actively recovering from an eating disorder, but there is a need to be medically stable and followed by a mental health professional (please check with your healthcare team) ***

Dates and Times:

This online course runs for 8 consecutive Thursdays from 5:30pm-7:30pm (2 hours) from January 14th to March 4th 2021

There is one optional 45-minute booster session May 20th 2021 (5:30pm-6:15pm) included.

Cost:  $650  Early Bird Pricing:  $600 if registered and paid by December 31, 2020.

Payment in full due at the time of registration by e-transfer to or credit card through our Ottawa River Psychology Group administrator at 613-656-3331.  See information below on how to register.

Refunds available until 7 days prior to course start date.

Receipts are offered for insurance coverage by extended health insurance. Please check with your insurance plan before registering for the course if you plan to seek reimbursement and if you are not sure if your insurance provider will cover this very valuable course. Student experiences with their insurance plans have varied in the past.  Many insurance companies in Canada, the US and abroad have a history of covering this course.


This course is being offered online via Zoom due to COVID-19.  The Zoom link will be sent to registrants on January 13, 2021.

To Register:

Contact the office at 613-656-3331 or  to confirm your eligibility for the course.

  • NOTE:  If you are actively struggling with an eating disorder, confirmation of medical stability and psychological follow-up from a healthcare team member will be required (e.g., family doctor, psychologist, psychotherapist, etc.). This is a requirement prior to registration.

Special Note: 

Although therapeutic, this course is not intended to be a therapy group. The aim is to help participants to develop compassionate skills for working with body imagine concerns.

About Group Instructors:

Group instructor: 

Dr. Melisa Arias-Valenzuela, C. Psych. (interim autonomous practice), is a licensed psychologist in the provinces of Québec and Ontario and is an associate at the Ottawa River Psychology Group. She holds a bachelor’s degree specialized with honours from the University of Ottawa and a doctoral degree in Psychology (Psy.D./Ph.D.) from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Dr. Arias-Valenzuela specializes in working with people struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating and body image concerns. She has a special interest and passion for compassionate intervention approaches, particularly for Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). She is a member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, the Compassionate Mind Foundation and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals. Dr. Arias-Valenzuela has led many clinical workshops on the therapeutic use of compassion practices, including the 2020 Meeting of the Canadian Network for Compassion Focused Therapy. 

Group assistant: 

Sarah Mackay, M.A. is a supervised practicum psychotherapy student at the Ottawa River Psychology Group. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a major in Behaviour, Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Windsor as well as a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from McGill University. Sarah has trained at the McGill Psychoeducational and Counselling Clinic and has begun specializing in mindfulness-based and compassion-focused therapies. She has received training in Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Core Skills with Drs. Kristin Neff and Chris Germer as well as Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) Theory and Practice with Tobyn Bell and Dr. Ashleigh McLennan. Sarah is also a member of the Compassionate Mind Foundation and the Canadian Psychological Association. She is currently continuing her clinical training at Ottawa River Psychology Group (ORPG) under the supervision of licensed psychologists Drs. Kimberly Sogge and Adam Kingsbury. 

About Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT): 

CFT is a form of evidence-based, Third-Wave Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy that integrates the neuroscience of positive emotion, evolutionary psychology, developmental psychology and methods derived from Buddhist psychology. Founded by British psychologist Dr. Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., CFT helps people experiencing high levels of shame and self-criticism by developing and working with experiences of inner warmth, safeness and soothing, via compassion and self-compassion. Treatment interventions targeting compassion have been shown to significantly diminish body image concern and eating pathology (see review and meta-analysis by Türk, F. & Waller, G. (2020) Clinical Psychology Review, 79, doi:101856).



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