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Barth, F.D. (2016). Psychodynamic Importance of “Cyber” and “In the Flesh” Friends in Psychotherapy with College-Aged Adolescents with Eating Disorders. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 15(4):357-368.

(2016). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 15(4):357-368

Psychodynamic Importance of “Cyber” and “In the Flesh” Friends in Psychotherapy with College-Aged Adolescents with Eating Disorders

F. Diane Barth, LCSW

It is well established that friends are an important part of child and adolescent emotional and psychological development (Erikson, 1980/1959; Kohut, 1971; Rubin et al., 2004; Sroufe et al., 1999; Sullivan, 1953). Friendships among 21st century children and adolescents develop not only in person but also through social media. Some of these friends are never seen “in the flesh,” yet there is no question they have an impact on the psyches of the youngsters involved. When it comes to eating disorders, both peer pressure and social focus on weight and size have long been recognized as having an impact on the development of eating disorders in children and adolescents. Adolescents susceptible to developing eating disorders often have a particular vulnerability to peer pressure and the demands of friends (Bunnell, 2016; Petrucelli, 2016; Zerbe, 2008, 2016). Friendships conducted through social media and electronic tools can have a significant affect not only on how these young people feel about their bodies, their selves, and their general sense of the world in which they live but also on their specific eating behaviors (Bunnell, 2016; Defeciani, 2016; Lanzieri and Hildebrandt, 2016; Sales, 2016).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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