Body Image a Critical Factor in Treatment of Adolescent Girls

By Roes, Nicholas A. | Addiction Professional, July 2005 | Go to article overview

Body Image a Critical Factor in Treatment of Adolescent Girls


Roes, Nicholas A., Addiction Professional


For adolescent girls, a healthy body image is one of the most important ingredients for success--both in the treatment and prevention of substance abuse. With very few female-only programs available, and counselors drawing upon research that focuses mostly on males, body image problems are often overlooked. This leaves many young women at an unnecessarily high risk of relapse or first-time experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The research that is available shows that a healthy body image is a protective factor against substance abuse, as well as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and self-mutilation (Cash and Pruzinsky, 2002). The importance of a healthy self-esteem is widely accepted as a focus of treatment, and for female adolescents it's almost impossible to separate a healthy body image from a healthy self-esteem.

There are many theories on the cause of the current epidemic of body image problems in this population. Purists from all schools may insist that there is one main cause, but it's more likely that there are several contributing factors, and that just about everyone who thinks they know the cause is at least partially right.

Childhood sexual abuse can cause body image problems--especially the most severe body image problems that are accompanied by eating disorders, depression, anxiety, or self-mutilation. Clients who view the abuse as ugly and disgusting may transfer those feelings to their bodies and view their bodies as ugly and disgusting. If they experienced any pleasurable feelings during any of the abuse, clients may feel as if their bodies have betrayed them (ibid.). It's widely accepted that dealing with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse is helpful to the maintenance of quality sobriety.

The psychodynamic perspective views body image problems as resulting from interactions with the child's caretaker during the first two or three years of life. If the caretaker is competent, the theory goes, the baby learns to distinguish herself from her surroundings, learns the boundaries of her body by the caretaker's hands outlining it, and sees healthy boundaries reinforced by the caretaker's sense of empathy.

When there's an incompetent caretaker, the child may lose all sense of self as she struggles to get the caretaker's attention. If the caretaker responds only to physical needs or pain, the child may learn to organize her experience around pain and illness (ibid.). Those whose early-childhood experiences contribute to body image problems may benefit from re-parenting.

Others believe that our attitudes toward our bodies are learned. We learn to see ourselves as others see us. If we're complimented on our appearance, we learn that we are attractive. If we're teased, we learn that we are unattractive.

Girls often take on the values of their mothers, and body image offers no exception. As a girl approaches adolescence, her father's comments on her changing body can have a big effect. To the extent that poor body image is learned, it can be unlearned, with new messages helping to reshape the poor image.

Still others see Western culture to blame. In our culture there seems to be different expectations for those who meet the culturally defined standard of beauty and those who don't. Studies show that most of us associate attractiveness with health, wealth, social competence and career success. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Body Image a Critical Factor in Treatment of Adolescent Girls
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.