The purpose of this study is to learn which of two forms of therapy is more likely to help people who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). We are comparing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a promising new treatment for BDD, and supportive psychotherapy (SPT), which appears to be the most widely used therapy in the community to treat BDD and related problems, such as low self-esteem or problems with family members or friends.

Study Treatments

  • If you join the study and are assigned to receive CBT, your therapist will provide you with information about BDD, and you will take part in CBT treatment that will focus on helping you change the way you think about your appearance; for example, help you develop more helpful thoughts and beliefs. CBT will also help you to gradually be able to enter into situations that you currently have difficulty with as a result of your body image concerns (such as social situations). While in these situations, you will use what you have learned in therapy to help you through them. The treatment also aims to help you control your repetitive behaviors (such as mirror-checking) that are related to your body image concerns.
  • If you join the study and are assigned to receive SPT, your therapist will provide you with information about BDD and other problems that may go along with BDD. The main focus of SPT is to help you learn about your BDD and factors that may affect your symptoms (for example, relationships, work, stress). This treatment helps you to cope with challenges in your life (both related and unrelated to your BDD symptoms) by improving self-esteem and encouraging positive coping skills.

What will the study involve for me?

  • If you join the study, you will be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to receive either CBT or SPT for BDD. The treatment will be provided at no cost to you. It will consist of 22 one-hour individual therapy sessions over 24 weeks
  • Throughout the study, you will participate in evaluations with a study staff member who is not your therapist to monitor your BDD and other symptoms. These evaluations will occur about once a month. Your participation in the study will last a total of about 12 months. 
  • By participating in this study, you will receive an evaluation, psychotherapy for BDD, and careful monitoring of your body-image concerns and symptoms. Your participation will be of benefit to others, as it will contribute to efforts to learn more about the treatment of BDD, which is a distressing and understudied disorder. 


Rhode Island Hospital
Principal Investigator
Katharine Phillips, MD
Eligibility Criteria

Adults (age18 or older):

  • Have BDD.
  • Live within driving distance of Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Meet further qualifications for this study.
Phone: 401-444-1644 or email