In spite of what we typically say, we rarely want people to actually see the real me. We prefer to hide the soft core of who we are behind some sort of protective camouflage. I use the word camouflage here not just as clothing with designs that have people avoid noticing our presence, for in most ways we all want to be seen – only we want to control just how others see us. We decorate ourselves with piercings and tattoos, we wear designer clothing, we wear uniforms, we use all sorts of tactics to redesign our bodies (diet, supplements, exercise, purging, etc,) so as to create a version of ourselves that gives us confidence in the outer world. Even nudity is used as camouflage.
For most people, the strategies work well enough to allow them to avoid their own shadows and to keep their conscious secrets safe from others. That doesn’t mean that they are happy campers, but simply that they are able to believe that they are safe. In a group of naked people, being nude soon has a naked person feel safe for their nudity becomes the norm, Curiously, being nude in a group of nude people lessens the sense of vulnerability. Being nude when you are the only one nude is a different story. In fact, in some nude gatherings, nudity is enforced for all so that there is a better sense of safety through conformity.
In therapy, there is a need to strip away the camouflage, become psychologically naked so to speak, to become vulnerable. To progress means that a person must expose their secrets and dare to look at what has been hidden for so long that it has even been forgotten. Can nudity in the therapeutic setting help? My best guess is affirmative. But, with that said, perhaps not at the beginning of therapy. My gut instinct tells me that this strategy could become useful when there has been a long trust relationship built between the therapist and the client AND only if therapy has hit a roadblock that has stalled progress where it seems that session after session, the process has become more like a hamster running on wheel getting nowhere.
What are your thoughts?