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418 | Why Teens Hate Their Bodies: Treating Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Identity Confusion in Gen Z

Friday 9/15 2:15 – 3:30 PM, Personality Disorders, Challenging Issues, and Complex Cases, Workshop Tracks


Amy Feigel, M.A.



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Approved For CME/CEU

Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, Physicians Assistants, Midwives, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners




What is body image, and why do teens have difficulty accepting their bodies? Throughout the human lifespan, the teenage years can be some of the hardest to navigate. With numerous physical changes, continued brain development, the digital age, and an immense desire for independence, all while living within a morally relativistic society, it is no wonder teens struggle. In addition, teens and young adults worry about fitting in with the rest of the crowd while also trying to stand out as individuals. Given these struggles, it is no wonder eating disorders begin in adolescence as a way to cope with the pain and confusion they feel. Identity synthesis is also now a major stress of the current teen generation. According to Lisa Diamond at the University of Utah, “A growing number of children and adolescents report having gender identities or expressions that differ from their birth-assigned gender or from social and cultural gender norms” (Diamond, 2020). Findings within an article published in the Journal of Adolescence confirmed, “Identity synthesis and confusion seem to be strongly negatively and positively associated with depressive symptoms in early, mid-, and late adolescents” (Bastiaens et al., 2021). With the rise of the digital age, research findings “… suggest that manipulation and concern about selfies posted may be risk correlates for body dissatisfaction in men and women” (Lonergan et al., 2019). This workshop for licensed mental health professionals will explore the latest research and findings from scholarly journals. We will also discuss signs, symptoms, etiology, counseling techniques, and successful strategies to help those Christian clients within Generation Z find wholeness, healing, and secure identity development in their identity in Christ. Last, special emphasis will be given to helping Christian parents with their teens struggling with identity to have open and honest conversations about identity, body image, and faith.

Learning Objectives

1. Define body image and identify why teens struggle to accept their changing physiques during these years.
2. Describe why eating disorders become a coping mechanism of choice for many teens to remedy poor body image, low self-esteem, insecurity, and pain.
3. Analyze the latest strategies, techniques, and effective treatment models that have proven successful in helping young people to live a whole and healthy lifestyle that incorporates their faith.
4. Identify how to help parents of struggling teens have open and respectful conversations around the topics of identity, body image, and faith.
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