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Help For Teens Who Struggle With Body Image

Help For Teens Who Struggle With Body Image

Adolescence is a time in a young person’s life that is filled challenging lessons, immense physical growth, surging hormones, and a newfound need for autonomy. Teenagers are constantly pushing boundaries, testing limits, and many become preoccupied with their appearance. Having a challenging relationship with one’s own body image can lead an adolescent down a slippery slope. A teen’s body image refers to how a young person perceives, thinks, and feels about his or her own body. The American culture places significant pressure on body image. Most teenagers hold a belief that one’s physical appearance directly corelates to how one interacts in the world and further directly affects one’s sense of belonging. A negative body image perception can be quite dangerous, leading to many possible long or short-term consequences, including the development of an eating disorder. An eating disorder is described as abnormal, irregular eating habits and extreme concern about one’s body weight or shape. 

How To Help

Adolescence can be an incredibly confusing time in a young person’s life, and often teenagers feel out of control. It is not uncommon for young people to yearn for a sense of control and attempt to gain it by becoming exceedingly self-critical. If you notice your teen struggling with body image issues, there are many subtle and not so subtle ways to help. Consider the following tips:

  1. Model self-love: avoid using body shaming phrases, and instead express gratitude and adoration for your physical uniqueness.
  2. Have open lines of communication: create an emotionally safe environment and have regular check-ins with your teenager. 
  3. Encourage self-expression: acknowledge and appreciate when your teen chooses to express themselves through the clothes they wear.
  4. Practice healthy daily habits: help your teen develop a schedule that incorporates eating nutritiously, regular exercise and obtaining ample sleep. 
  5. Express empathy: honor that your teen is struggling with their ever changing appearance, and let them know they are not alone, and you too felt similarly during your teenage years.
  6. Show unconditional support: listen to your teen and never hesitate to express your pride in and love for them. 

Keep an eye on your teen’s behaviors and be aware of any noticeable differences that may indicate a need for additional support. There are a variety of options for teens who may benefit from a formal treatment program. At Pacific Teen Treatment, for example, we offer a residential treatment program. We create tailored treatment plans for each of our clients to ensure all nuanced needs are met. Certain therapeutic modalities that are commonly integrated into treatment plans at Pacific Teen Treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), expressive arts therapies, and more. Young people struggling body image issues will receive additional specialized care, and offers regular meetings with a nutritionist, daily meal plans, meal buddies, post meal one on one meeting, and more. Our goal is to help our clients find a healthy and sustainable relationship with food.

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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